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Strange textures of vision : a study of the significance of mannered fictional techniques in six selected… Schermbrucker, William Gerald 1973

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STRANGE TEXTURES OF VISION A study of the significance of mannered fic t i o n a l techniques in six selected novels of D. H. Lawrence, William Faulkner, and Patrick White, together with a theoretical introduction on "The Novel of Vision" by WILLIAM GERALD SCHERMBRUCKER B.A., University of Cape Town, 1957 M.A., University of British Columbia, 1966 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October, 1973 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission fo r extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s representatives. It i s understood, that copying or publication of t h i s thesis f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date ABSTRACT The purpose of this dissertation is to present, "by theory and example, a c r i t i c a l approach to a certain type of twentieth-century novel, described as "the novel of vision." The approach i s intended to enable c r i t i c a l readers to experience the aesthetic impact of such novels most directly, in contrast to the indirect experience produced by those approaches which import concepts or terminology to the text from external sources, such as schools of psychology or theories of genre. The approach follows the basic dogma of New Criticism, in treating each novel as a self-contained work of art requiring close textual scrutiny for i t s illumination; external glosses are rigorously avoided, and specific stress is placed on strange or distorted elements in the language and structure of each novel, by which the novelist chiefly communicates his particular vision of reali t y . The f i r s t section of the dissertation consists of a theoretical rationale for the c r i t i c a l approach adopted in analyzing the six novels which are the main subject. By way of defining what is meant by "a novel of vision," brief passages are quoted from such novels, which contain the typical characteristics distinguishing this kind of novel from other kinds. Chief of these i i i c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i s a s t a r t l i n g l y mannered prose texture. "The novel of v i s i o n " having been defined by textural c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , i t i s then argued that such a novel functions as a c u l t u r a l medium through which the novelist engages i n dynamic inte r a c t i o n with h i s society, o f f e r i n g society his v i s i o n which i s usually i n c o n f l i c t with conventional values and norms of perception. Next, a d e f i n i t i o n i s given of a useful role for the c r i t i c , as an illuminator of the a r t i s t ' s v i s i o n , rather than i n t e r -preter or judge of i t . F i n a l l y i n t h i s section, t y p i c a l techniques of "the novel of v i s i o n " are discussed, and a few convenient terms for r e f e r r i n g to these techniques are suggested. The main body of the d i s s e r t a t i o n consists of six a n a l y t i c a l chapters i n which the present writer plays the r o l e of c r i t i c defined e a r l i e r , and t r i e s to illuminate the v i s i o n of the a r t i s t i n D. H. Lawrence's The Plumed  Serpent and The Man Who Died, William Faulkner's As I Lav  Dying and Absalom, Absalom!, and Patrick White's The Aunt's  Story and The V i v i s e c t o r . Each of these chapters begins with a b r i e f contrast being drawn between the present approach and t y p i c a l approaches of other c r i t i c s . I t i s noted how ce r t a i n c r i t i c s have brought preconceived concepts and terminology to the texts i n order to make sense of them, and i t i s argued that these approaches tend to avoid the a r t i s t s ' iv strange visions in these texts. Each chapter then proceeds at greater length to employ the c r i t i c a l approach here suggested, confronting each text on i t s own terms. No attempt is made to relate "the novel of vision" to the history of the novel generally, nor to such trends in literary history as Expressionism, Symbolism or Futurism. Nor, in the analyses of specific novels, are they related to other works by the same author, in order to show the development of techniques of vision in the canon of an author. There is no implication that the three authors studied are the only or even the best examples of "novelists of vision;" rather, these three writers provide convenient and well-known examples by which to demonstrate the c r i t i c a l approach in three quite different literary contexts. The term "novel of vision" i s believed to be original, as i s the c r i t i c a l approach to such novels here offered. V TABLE OF CONTENTS Ch. 1 Introduction 1 Ch. 2 The Novel of V i s i o n i Texture, Dynamic, Techniques 7 Ch. 3 D. H. Lawrence's The Plumed Serpenti Progress and Anatomy 63 Ch. 4 D. H. Lawrence's The Man Who Diedi The Rhythms of Blooming 122 Ch. 5 As I Lav Dying» The Puzzle of Videologues and Motifs 160 Ch. 6 Peering Through Smokei The Process and Texture of V i s i o n i n Absalom.  Absalom I 193 Ch. 7 Form as Themet The V i s i o n of A l i e n -a t i o n i n The Aunt's Story 248 Ch. 8 L i v i n g by V i s i o n i The V i s i o n and Role of the A r t i s t i n Patri c k White's The V i v i s e c t o r 285 Ch. 9 Conclusion 33^ Bibliography 338 Appendix A 3 ^ ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Three t h i n g s made i t p o s s i b l e f o r me to complete t h i s d i f f i c u l t work a f t e r many d e l a y s : encouragement, d i s c i p l i n e and a q u i e t p l a c e . For t h e i r c o n s i d e r a b l e h e l p i n these regards, I wish to thank r e s p e c t i v e l y , Dr. Lee M. Whitehead, my s u p e r v i s o r ; Mr. Sydney Bender, my c o l l e a g u e ; and Miss Peg Brennan, my f r i e n d . INTRODUCTION The purpose of this dissertation is to present, by theory and example, a c r i t i c a l approach to a certain type of twentieth-century novel which I describe as "the novel of vision." I attempt to show how my approach en-ables c r i t i c a l readers to experience the aesthetic impact of such novels most directly, in contrast to the indirect experience produced by those approaches which import concepts or terminology to the text from external sources, such as schools of psychology or theories of genre. My approach follows the basic dogma of New Criticism, in treating each novel as a self-contained work of art re-quiring close textual scrutiny for i t s illumination. I rigorously avoid external glosses, and I specifically stress the importance of strange or distorted elements in the language and structure of the novel, by which the novelist chiefly communicates his particular vision of realit y . In the f i r s t section of the dissertation, I present an essay—partly documented, partly original ar-gument—in which I construct the theoretical rationale for the c r i t i c a l approach I adopt in analyzing the six novels which are my main subject. By way of defining what I mean by a "novel of vision," I begin by quoting brief passages 2 from such novels, which contain the typical characteris-tics and which distinguish this kind of novel from other kinds. Chief of these characteristics i s a startlingly mannered prose texture. Having defined "the novel of vision" by textural characteristics, I then describe how i t functions as a cultural medium through which the nov-e l i s t engages in dynamic interaction with his society, offering society his vision which is usually in conflict with conventional values and norms of perception. A l -though this part of the theory i s largely postulative, I do offer some supporting evidence for my construct of a dynamic interaction. Next, I define a useful role for the c r i t i c , as an illuminator of the artist's vision, rather than an interpreter or judge of i t . Finally in this section, I discuss typical techniques of "the novel of vision" and suggest a few convenient terms for re-ferring to these techniques. The main body of the dissertation consists of six analytical chapters in which I play the role of c r i t i c defined earlier, and try to illuminate the vision of the ar t i s t in D. H . Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent and The Man  Who Died, William Faulkner's As I Lav Dying and Absalom,  Absalom t, and Patrick White's The Aunt's Story and The Viv  isector. In each of these chapters, I begin by briefly 3 contrasting my own approach with typical approaches of other writers. I note how certain c r i t i c s have brought preconceived concepts and terminology to the texts in order to make sense of them, but I argue that these ap-proaches, despite their values, tend to ignore the ar-t i s t s ' strange visions in these texts. I then proceed at greater length to use the c r i t i c a l approach which I am offering, confronting each text on i t s own terms. In the analytic portions of my work (and to some extent in the theory!) I have tried to keep in the forefront of my mind the actual experience of a novel reader. I have tried not to be intimidated or in f l u -enced by the ponderous language and prescriptive a t t i -tudes which unfortunately we find in much existing criticism, and which quite remove us from the imagina-tive worlds of the books under discussion. I have written frankly and informally, as far as I could, so as to try to preserve the live context in which the ac-tual impact of a novel on a reader is the main focus of attention. I had to deal with a quadruple f i e l d of re-search, comprising the aesthetics of prose f i c t i o n gen-erally, and the specific areas of three separate novel-ists belonging in three separate cultures. To master such 4 an enormous f i e l d would obviously need a lifetime's work, so I have had to be selective both in the scope of my research and in the range of application of my thesis. I do not, for example, attempt to relate "the novel of vision" to the history of the novel generally, nor to such trends in literary history as Expressionism, Sym-bolism, Futurism etc; nor, in the analyses of specific novels, do I relate them to other works by the same au-thor, in order to show the development of techniques of vision in the canon of an author. These are just two examples; there are many other directions I might have taken but decided to forego in order to achieve a man-ageable and coherent study. I was strongly tempted to study Blake in the context of the term "vision;" then at one point I thought of researching the background in folklore and mythology of the god Quetzalcoatl, to see what origins I might find for the motifs used in The  Plumed Serpent; and so on. In determining the bounda-ries of my work I decided to focus primarily on the texts and criticism of the six novels studied. My research did include a comprehensive survey of the secondary ma-terials relating to those six novels, and any material on the aesthetics of prose f i c t i o n which I believed might have a direct bearing on my thesis. 5 In selecting the three authors to study I do not imply that they are the only or even the most accom-plished examples of "novelists of vision;" rather, these three writers provide convenient, well-known examples by which to demonstrate my c r i t i c a l approach in three quite different literary contexts. The term "novel of vision" is original, as, I believe, is the c r i t i c a l approach to such novels here offered. In developing my theory of "the novel of vision," I found some useful and suppor-tive sources, notably Victor Shklovsky's essay "Art as Technique,"* some of Lawrence's essays, and some of Faulkner's and White's recorded conversations. I also found some confirmation for my ideas in two private letters of Patrick White addressed to my friend Audrey Thomas, the Vancouver novelist, but I have not received permission to transcribe or quote from these letters at this time. 6 FOOTNOTES 1 V i c t o r Shklovsky, "Art as Technique" (1917)* r p t . i n Russian Formalist Criticisms Four Essays, trans, and introd. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis (Lincoln, Nebi U. of Nebraska Press), pp. 3-2^. CHAPTER II THE NOVEL OF VISION* TEXTURE, DYNAMIC, TECHNIQUES i THE BARRIER OF PROSE* TEXTURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NOVEL OF VISION The problem or area of confusion upon which this dissertation is an attempt to shed light i s easy to i l -lustrate* Then Ellen died, the butterfly of a for-gotten summer two years defunctive now— the substanceless shell, the shade im-pervious to any alteration of dissolution because of i t s very weightlessness* no body to be buried* just the shape, the recollection, translated on some peaceful afternoon without be l l or catafalque into that cedar grove, to l i e in powder—light paradox beneath the thousand pounds of marble monument which . . . 1 "Faulkner's prose," many a reviewer and c r i t i c might have written, " i s very poetic."^ Despite the vagueness of such a catchall term as "poetic" we understand to a degree what is meant* The prose is not simplej i t cal l s attention to i t s e l f by i t s opacity, i t s difficulty,* i t requires careful perusal and i t s compressed meanings are open to various interpretations. And so, because the prose of Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom, or of Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent or of White's The Aunt's Story is "poetic" prose, we read i t (assuming we're s t i l l interested and haven't turned away 8 to read Hemingway or Waugh or Graham Greene or Robertson Davies) with a certain extra effort, more perhaps than most novelists demand of us, in order to find out what i t is the man i s saying, to see just why the prose is so un-prosaic, so assertive of i t s e l f in i t s strange new guise of language. Given that the reader makes a certain amount of effort, i t might seem perhaps that the problem disappears. After a l l , the passage quoted above from Absalom. Absalom I i s reasonably i n t e l l i g i b l e i we understand that Ellen i s presented in the metaphor of a butterfly, just as, say, Ezra Pound's lady in Kensington Gardens has her weight-lessness evoked in the image of a skein of loose s i l k blow-ing against the iron railings.3 Ellen's weightlessness is brought out by the contrasting thousand pounds of the mar-ble monument. But then why i s the shade static and "im-pervious" because of i t s weightlessness? Why does the body cease to exist and actually not require burial, yet remain a recollected shape? And why the catafalque, the cedar grove and the powder? To answer this second set of questions, we may wish to be given the total context (the book as a whole) in which the passage occurs. And indeed the context helps fur-ther our understanding. For instance, we find, on fu l l e r 9 reading, that throughout the novel Ellen is often pre-sented as a butterfly* Ellen was dead two years now—the butter-f l y , the moth caught in a gale and blown against a wall and clinging there beating feebly, (p.85) . . . Ellen preened and fluttered out her unwitting butterfly's Indian summer, (p.97) Sometimes the butterfly references are very oblique, as when weightlessness and short l i f e are alluded to» Ellen at the absolute flood's peak of her unreal and weightless l i f e which with the next dawn was to break beneath her . . . (p.106) With further reading, we find that the reason she is weight-less is that in some way the walls of the house have ab-sorbed her substance: in her sister's view, she has "van-ished into the stronghold of an ogre or a djinn," in which place, with i t s "insurmountable resistance to occupancy save when sanctioned or protected by the ruthless and the strong," she lived for a time with Sutpen, but when he went away to war she began to disintegrate physically1 " i t was as the butterfly i t s e l f enters dissolution by actually dis-solving" (p . 8 5 ) . Continuing our careful reading, we pick out of the text the thread of the house, and find that i t l i f t s away in a whole strand of meanings and associations of i t s own, established in dozens of occurrences in the text, and 10 i n t e r a c t i n g with other strands of meaning. So that while one part of our mind, as we are actually reading the novel, i s accepting the imageeof the b u t t e r f l y as a marvelously evocative image or impression of decadent Southern woman-hood, of the puritan C o l d f i e l d pride incarnate i n a showy, substanceless human being, another part of our mind i s t r y i n g to relate the image of the b u t t e r f l y to the image of the house, also a "substanceless shell}" and yet other parts of our mind are drawing relationships between the totemic i d e n t i f i c a t i o n s of E l l e n / b u t t e r f l y , Sutpen/stal-l i o n , Bon/cat, and so on, and the anatomical counter-pointed descriptions of C o l d f i e l d f l e s h — s o rank and em-battled i n Rosa, so sapped and dehydrated i n E l l e n — a n d Sutpen s k u l l ( l i n k i n g Thomas and Henry and Bon i n repeated i d e n t i f i c a t i o n s ) and teeth (hidden behind the beard i n an ambivalent smile). And as readers we become more and more aware, admiringly, f r u s t r a t e d l y , i n puzzlement or perhaps even anger, that Faulkner i s writing something for which our usual capacities as novel readers, and for which the usual c r i t i c a l terms which have helped our understanding in the past, are no longer adequate. I t i s not just a matter of finding "poetic" passages here and there i n the text, where isolated heightening of e f f e c t or compression of meaning detain our i n t e l l e c t f o r a moment before we pass 11 on in the narrative pursuit? rather, the entire texture of the book is buil t up, composed, woven of threads?of« metaphor, image, motif, or whatever we c a l l the elements. The "poetic" element of the prose ceases to appear as simply an addition to the basic narrative, but begins to supplant i t . The "poetry" begins to force us into a whole new way of seeing what i s being presented. We are not given a story created out of things we know at f i r s t hand or by empathetic identification, but a story created almost entirely out of impressions, symbols, dislocated and extraordinary images, a l l of which force us into look-ing at the experience retailed through the most unusual eyes of the particular author. It is this unusualness which constitutes the problem for the reader. The "poetic" novel, after a l l , i s not new.^ (Conrad, for example, and the whole move-ment of impressionism come immediately to mind.) But the demands made upon a reader by the prose—the imagery and symbols and impressions—of James, and Conrad, and Stephen Crane, or even of Joyce or early Virginia Woolf, are different in kind from one of the demands made by the prose of Faulkner and Lawrence and Patrick White, to name only these three. Once again, an il l u s t r a t i o n may clarify* But in the last movement Moraitis rose again 12 above the flesh. You were not untouched. There were moments of laceration, which made you dig your nails in your hands. The 'cello's voice was one long barely subjugated cry under the savage lashes of the v i o l i n . But Moraitis walked slowly into the open. He wore the expression of sleep and solitary mirrors. The sun was in his eyes, the sky had passed between his bones.5 In this passage (from The Aunt's Story) there is an obvious contrast established between the 'cello and the v i o l i n , and the conflict between these two personified forces of com-munication (the "cry" and the "lashes") evidently has some direct relation—grammatically established by the "but"— with Moraitis' walking into the open, and the expression on his face. That expression ("of sleep and solitary mirrors") somehow signals to the narrating consciousness that the sun is in Moraitis' eyes, and that the sky has passed be-tween his bones. What does i t a l l mean? If we read i n isolation the description "the sun was in his eyes," we can certainly supply a reasonable interpretation! He is radiant with a certain beauty; Theodora (the narrating con-sciousness) is very much attracted to him; he i s a source of v i t a l i t y , like the sun. Thus taken out of context, the fact of the sun being in Moraitis' eyes appears to be a simple impressionistic detail subject to straightforward interpretation on at least one level. But "the sky had passed between his bones." There we are beyond impression-ismic Obviously the writer is tellingaus something in a 13 language which we have to learn like a foreign tongue? and without that learning, the meaning of the statement is perfectly obscure. Even at the superficial level at which we interpreted "the sun was in his eyes," there is no sense in the statement about the sky and his bones. That is why I say there is a difference in kind between the prose of The Aunt's Story or The Plumed Serpent or As I  Lay Dying, and the prose of impressionists or stream-of-consciousness writers, or other "poetic" novelists. With other "poetic"writers, the meaning of the prose is avail-able to any reader who cares to think a l i t t l e imagina-tively. In Jacob's Room (to take a random instance) the British Museum appears f i r s t as metaphor, then as simile, of the human mind wrestling with the paradoxes of exist-ence in a continuing tradition of intellectual effort* The rain poured down. The British Museum stood in one solid immense mound, very pale, very sleek in the rain, not a quarter of a mile from {jlacobj. The vast mind was sheeted with stone. , * . Stone l i e s solid over the British Museum, as bone l i e s cool over the visions and heat of the brain.° Here the details "very pale, very sleek in the rain," easily identify Jacob with the Museum (particularly as he is constantly presented as a lank, pale intellectual, and as his walk in the rain has just been described be-fore this passage), and i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to apprehend 14 the expanding meaning of the bone/stone, brain/books sim-i l e . We are given a perceived image which helps us to con-ceive of the person of Jacob. But a l l of this is in known terms, unique combinations of images perhaps, but familiar enough for a l l that. Virginia Woolf is giving us l i f e as she sees i t , but l i f e as she sees i t i s not something radically new to us; a l l we are asked to do i s conceive of Jacob's mind as a museum, which is rather easy, consid-ering that both are storehouses of knowledge. By contrast, in the prose of The Aunt's Story or Absalom, Absalom I we are presented with a new vision, that i s ; a new process of envisioning real i t y . The terms in which the stories are told are unfamiliar and i n i t i a l l y unintelligible and as-tonishing. Such novels are "novels of vision," in which the yery process of envisioning and recording the subject matter i s radically new; words take on unconventional and unique meanings,, producing a new texture of reality for those who can see i t . Yet, of course, because the development of art methods is an evolutionary process, prose of "vision" has not simply emerged without antecedents. Symbolism and impressionism differ from prose of "vision" as I have sug-gested, but they stand as prototypes and sources of the new technique. The evolution is observable in Lawrence's prose, 15 where symbolistic and impressionistic interpretations make for partial understanding; but Lawrence goes beyond sym-bolism and impressionism, and his prose (especially the later works $ •r.contaims; elements of something utterly new. If we become used to reading Lawrence as a latter-day Romantic writer, or as a symbolist or a f l o r i d impression-i s t , we may tend to slide over this other important element in his prose. Having obtained some kind of meaning out of The Plumed Serpent or The Man Who Died, enough to satisfy us, we may well just pass off the rest of the confusing masses of words where they occur, as sheer excess. Once again, an example may c l a r i f y my pointi The wind was suddenly;:;, roaring, the lamp was leaping with a long,Esmoky needle of flame, inside i t s chimney. Leaves and dust flew rattling on the terrace, there was a splash of lightning. Ramon's body lay there uncovered and motionless, the bandage was already soaked with blood, under the darkening, leaping light of the lamp. And again Kate saw, vividly, how the body is the flame of the soul, leaping and sinking upon the invisible wick of the soul. And now the soul, like a wick, n seemed spent, the body was a sinking, fad-ing flame.7 At f i r s t sight, this passage seems easy enough to under-stand. Impressionistic details like the "long, smoky nee-dle of flame" and the "splash of lightning" create a vivid picture in which the lamp obviously i s a symbolic analogue 16 of Ramoni the wind is roaring on the lamp, causing the flame to fli c k e r up and down, and likewise Ramon's l i f e i s flickering in the delicate balance of fate; the wind may blow out the lamp, Ramon may succumb to his wounds and die. So much is evident. But what are we to make of the strange fact of-fered, "that the body is the flame of the soul"—the con-verse of what we normally think in, say, Christian theology where the body is the clay housing the intangible soul, or in Plato's philosophy, where the soul or s p i r i t i s the pur-est essence of the essential l i f e substance, and the body the most corrupt? How, in the f i r s t place, i s i t possible even to conceive of the image of body-as-flame, soul-as-wick? Does the soul reside under the body, like the wick under the flame—or is the image simply carelessly inap-propriate, grotesque even? And then, why does the light-ning actually splash, water-like? And i s the flame really like a needle? Suddenly i t becomes apparent that there are many extraordinary facts about the prose of the passage, and that our normal responsiveness to symbols and impressions is not quite adequate to explain them. The sheer concen-tration of extraordinary facts in such a short passage causes us to hesitate about passing i t a l l off Aasl.imprecisian or mere verbiage. Leavis suggests that The Plumed Serpent 17 is "the least complex of Lawrence's novels,"° and adds-that " i t i s the only one that [he] f ind/V] d i f f i c u l t to read through." Perhaps part of the d i f f i c u l t y stems from the fact that the prose is more complex than i t f i r s t appears. Its texture i s made up of many strands of unusual images, offering the reader a new way of envisioning reality. The problem under discussion, then, is that in certain novels one finds a strange and i n i t i a l l y unin-t e l l i g i b l e prose texture, as illustrated by the quotations above. The imagery i s often obscure and puzzling. Struc-ture too is often quite confusing in such novels, as in Absalom. Absalom! where different time schemes and di f f e r -ent narrators mesh without clear distinction, or Part Two of The Aunt's Story where we are not sure at f i r s t whether events are imaginary or real, whether people are speaking or whether someone is imagining their thoughts. Readers are baffled at f i r s t by these and other elements of strange-ness, as the reviewers indicate when they speak of such things as a "tense, defiant obscureness, the s e l f - s u f f i -cient dislocation of thought which withdraws i t s e l f from facile understanding"9 (of As I Lay Dying). "From the f i r s t page of [^Absalom. Absalom I "\ to the last we are con-scious that the author i s straining for strangeness," com-ments one writer, adding, "He w i l l say nothing simply." 1 0 18 Another admits, "I cannot suggest why Patrick White should choose to use words in this way."11 'This i s pre-cisely the question I seek to answer, for White, Lawrence, Faulkner or any novelist who presents his reader with a barrier of strangely mannered prose which draws attention f i r s t and fo^iost to a particular, idiosyncratic way of envisioning reality; that, in brief, i s my definition of "the.novel of vision." "A novel of vision" i s a novel in which the a r t i s t creates a self-contained value scheme which differs radically from conventional value schemes, because i t is expressed in language invented by the novel-i s t to conveyghis personal vision of r e a l i t y . Thus in "a novel of vision" the way of seeing i s a major part of the a r t i s t i c communication, and usually more important than the thing seen—in which respect the Impressionist novel is clearly a forerunner of "the novel of vision." To further c l a r i f y my conception of "the novel of vision," I turn next to consider certain aspects of the way in which art functions in society. If we can under-stand why the "novelist of vision" imposes his mannered idiom upon us rather than just t e l l i n g a tale in simple terms and directly, then I think, we are closer to the point where we can accept and explore the vision offered, rather than resisting i t or simply remaining bewildered. 19 i i THE DYNAMIC OF VISION* ARTIST VERSUS SOCIETY The social context in which an a r t i s t embodies his vision of reality in a novel w i l l obviously affect th nature of thepproduct, for art is a process of communica-tion as well as of self-expression. The Freudian concept of art as neurosis helps to explain the relationship existing between some artists and their works, but i t does not add to our understanding of the communicative function of art. In order to understand that, i t i s nec-essary to postulate some kind of sociological aesthetic; for i t i s only in a social context that art has any sig-nificance for anyone other thari the artist—even for him too perhaps. So-called Marxist c r i t i c s such as Caudwell, Kettle and even to a degree Leavis, have done much to develop the concept of the a r t i s t as a moral agent whose function i s to engage society in a quest for moral values The major limitation of the various Marxist approaches is that they (intentionally) define values in social rather than personal terms. Kettle, for example, brushes off Huxley, Orwell, Koestler, Green and Waugh, as "unhelpful" novelists, because "the picture of the human situation that emerges from the novels of these writers i s in the last degree unhopeful." He objects to Aldous Huxley be cause he has "no respect for l i f e . M l 3 Similarly, Leavis 20 discusses Decoud in Nostromo. for the exclusive purpose of exposing Decoud's antisocial self-sufficiency, and contrasting this with the socially-oriented strength of Dr. Monygham and Georgio V i o l a . ^ Caudwell sees such writers as Lawrence and Gide to be rooted in a collapsing bourgeois society, with "no constructive theory" ^ toodi'fer, and further limited because "they cannot see the new forms and contents of an art which w i l l replace bourgeois art. The aesthetic of such c r i t i c s i s evidently predisposed to the affirmation of society and proletarian values; hence they tend to rank the artists whom they c r i t i c i z e in a value scale of social history. Obviously such an approach obstructs the f u l l range of communication between art i s t and reader. To understand the communicative function of art in i t s social context I would look for a theory of art which is socially based, but does not involve preconcep-tions as to what the a r t i s t may or ought to be saying. The most helpful concepts I have found towards the construction of such a theory are those developed by the Russian For-malist c r i t i c Victor Shklovsky in an essay recently trans-lated for English readers. 1^ "The purpose of art," says Shklovsky, " i s to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are k n o w n . " T h i s statement 21 is reminiscent of Conrad's famous announcement of his pur-pose in the Preface to "The Niggeroof the Narcissus" (". . .before a l l , to make you see,"), but Shklovsky dwells more emphatically than Conrad on the difference between that which is perceived and that which is known.lo" Through-out his essay, Shklovsky stresses the Formalist principle of "defamiliarization" as the primary function of art images. The purpose of an image, he says, " i s not to make us perceive meaning, but to create a special perception of the o b j e c t — i t creates a 'vision' of the object instead  of serving as a means for knowing i t . " {^Shklovsky' s emphasisj.*9 must obviously possess a special capacity for perception (or vision) himself; and i f we accept that "special per-ception" is the primary endowment of the a r t i s t , we see that the concepts of vision and art appear to be very close to one anotherJ art is simply the rendering of vision. Consequently, although part of our f i n a l judgement of an art work w i l l relate to technical success or failure, in the f i r s t instance our judgment w i l l be based on the i n -forming vision of the art work, namely the artist's "special perception." The a r t i s t defamiliarizes familiar To create "a special perception," the a r t i s t 22 objects and experiences, and his social function i s to challenge sterotypes of perception by offeringsin their place new ways of seeing. For, as Shklovsky says, "as perception becomes habitual, i t becomes automatic," 2 0 and "art exists that one may recover the sensation of l i f e , " 2 1 that one may redeem one's consciousness from the wooden automatism of perception based on habit, and see things newly. Now this ^ process of replacing the stereotype with new vision makes demands on the reader, the society, the audience—whenever i t is that the ar t i s t is interacting with in the process of communication. And the more radical and new an artist i s , the more w i l l society tend to reject or repudiate him at f i r s t . This is always the case with artists of importance, especially in the Twentieth Century, as David Lodge points out in his discussion of "modern" and "contemporary" w r i t e r s t 2 2 "Moderns"—and I would place "novelists of vision" among them, for reasons that w i l l be-come obvious in a moment—are writers who "seek a radical transformation of conventional forms of communication, through which to express poetically an inner c r i s i s of ©esnsibili-ty," 2^ and for whom " l i f e is something elusive, baffling, multiple, subjective." 2^ "Contemporaries" on the other hand, are "those who engage in a direct, prosaic way with their social and p o l i t i c a l circumstances,"25 and for whom 23 l i f e " i s what common sense t e l l s us i t i s , what people The modern disturbs us with the novelty of his vision and his technique; and since most c r i t i c s and readers are basically conservative, he tends to be neglected and despised in his youth and maturity, and revered in his old age or when he is dead. The contemporary, on the other hand, is usually much more accessible to the general public. He may attack them, but he does so in terms they understand, in the language they use, appealing to experiences they share.2? This description of the neglect afforded to what Lodge calls the "modern" i s clearly evident in the instances of "novelists of vision" whom I'm discussing. One thinks of Faulkner's long obscurity, before Malcolm Cowley fi n a l l y took up his cause and got him some serious at-tention.*^ ^Lawrence's case i s even clearert "With few exceptions, the reviewers of his works were either con-descending or savage, and the wide public knew of Lawrence only as a man whose books were sometimes suppressed. His death in 1930 brought forth some bitter obituaries, s t i l l shocking as one looks over them today."29 i n White's case, the process of rejection continues at the present time, despite a general swing to acceptance now that he i s in his sixties and has attracted considerable international interest. Peter Shrubb, in a f a i r l y recent a r t i c l e , s t i l l complains of finding White's "most attractive truth to be 24 death," and his vision "a reformist vision gone hitter and sour, frustrated, made angry, and thus trivialized . " 3 ° To sum up my points "the novelist of vision," because he is an a r t i s t offering his radically new, "special percep-tion" in his work, draws h o s t i l i t y and misunderstanding, or at least neglect from reviewers, c r i t i c s and the gen-eral public, for a while. The a r t i s t who has something really new to say in the Twentieth Century takes accep-tance as a mark of decline, and even expects to arouse hos t i l i t y in the f i r s t instance. The phenomenon is nicely documented in a 196? popular magazine 1 Jean-Jacques Lebel, producer of Picasso's play Le Desir Attrape par l a Queue, is quoted by Time as saying that "he would have f e l t better i f there had been just a few cries of moral out-rage at opening night. 'The fact that there's so much opposition to the kind of thing we •.'-re doingi' he explains, 'is what gives me confidence that we're on the right road.'"31 For certain artists then—the ones Shklovsky i s talking about, Lodge's ^moderns," my "novelists of vision" — t h e expression of "special perception" i s linked with an experience of social alienation, h o s t i l i t y . Whether the alienation results from the special vision or produces i t , I can't say. For my purposes, what is important to notice 25 is that this sense of conflict between a r t i s t and society exists, and, secondly, that i t appears to provide some of the dynamic motivation which leads the a r t i s t to produce further work. Indeed, there i s some evidence that the a r t i s t actually welcomes i t and chooses i t , whatever pain i t may bring him in his social l i f e . Lawrence, for in-stance, made a point of continually rejecting English society, even as he continued to write about the English. One could quote many passages from his letters to evidence this phenomenon. At one point he t e l l s Catherine Carswell that he i s about to complete the last chapter of his text-book Movements in European History, and continues, in the same letter, to v i l i f y his subjecti By now I am utterly bored with social and p o l i t i c a l England—Europe too— I don't believe in them in the least—none of •em—don't even want to any more. really fallen out of the reckoning.^ 2 I use this quotation (even though i t doesn't refer to a work of f i c t i o n ^ ) because i t s petulant, excessive tone conveys precisely the attitude I am describingi an at-titude of willing alienation from society. Like a hurt child, Lawrence declares himself, "Je. m'en fiche of the whole show,"^ and soon leaves England, only to continue for the rest of his l i f e writing about English mena,and women. Likewise Faulkner's self-imposed isolation and 26 alienation from his society i s very clear in the documents of his l i f e . Isolating himself in Oxford, with a ditch dug across the driveway, rudely refusing invitations to social functions, he continues to write about the South.35 In France he resists the questions of journalists and forces them to hunt him like "a lion in the garden."36 He projects the public myth that he is a simple farmer, too busy for lite r a r y talk. Once, delighted that the myth i s accepted by an interviewer, he t e l l s her coyly how he saves himself from the public* "Les .iournalistes vous lai s s e n t - i l s en paix  dans votre ferme?" "Non. Mais quand i l s entrent dans l a grande  porte. .ie me sauve par l a porte de derrie're."37 Certainly Faulkner came out of hiding in the latter part of his l i f e , but why should he have f e l t i t necessary to convey the image of saving himself by running from inter-viewers out the back door? The answer is not d i f f i c u l t to deduce. If we consider that the a r t i s t i s the man of special vision, i t i s quite understandable that a state of isolation and even social antagonism is his chosen environment; for only when he is cut off from society's norms, from the compromises which social involvement inevitably demands of his honest and secret self, can he attempt to be absolutely true to his private vision. It isn't that he simply rejects 27 mankind, but that he wishes to preserve his vision of reality from dilution or distortion by societal stereo-types. He knows there i s a discrepancy and contradiction between what he, as a r t i s t , sees, and what society sees and cal l s "truth." Faulkner shows his awareness of this discrepancy in American culture in the following excerpt from an interview in Japani SAKANISHIi Now there i s another tendency; in this country which to us i s constantly puzzling, but that i s an easy way for the newspapers and journalists to solve the problem. If anything sensational or v i t a l happens, they always get hold of a novelist to ask his opinion. Now there is a mass drowning of school kids and a novelist i s called upon by telephone or by interviews to see what he thought about i t as the highest authority in the matter of events. He gives out his opinion. FAULKNERi To me that is a symptom of your culture and I think a very good and an im-portant one. In my country, an a r t i s t i s nothing. Nobody pays attention to him. He has no part in our ideology and our p o l i t i c s , but in an old culture, an a r t i s t i s a wise man, i s important and looked up to with respect which I think is fine. I wish i t were true in my country. S A K A N I S H I J Really. FAULKNERt In my country, instead of asking the a r t i s t what makes children commit su-icide, they go the Chairman of General Motors and ask him. That is true. If you make a million dollars, you know a l l the answers.3° Anticipating by some fifteen years the campus radicals of 28 the early '70's for whom "the Chairman of GM" is the para-digm of wrong-valued thinking, Faulkner here asserts the fundamental contradiction between the "special perception" of the a r t i s t and the vision of society at large in Amer-ica. Patrick White expresses a simlar awareness of the alienation of the a r t i s t from Australian societyi In a l l directions stretched the Great Aus-tralian Emptiness, in which the mind is the least of possessions, in which the rich man is the important man, in which the school-master and the journalist rule what i n t e l -lectual roost there i s , in which beautiful youths and g i r l s stare at l i f e through blind eyes, in which human teeth f a l l like autumn leaves, the buttocks of cars grow hourly glassier, muscles prevail, and the march of material ugliness does not raise a quiver from the average nerves. It was the exaltation of the "average" that made me panic most, and in this frame of mind I began to conceive another novel.39 The last half sentence here i s crucial* "in this frame of mind," in disgust with society, White conceives a new novel (The Tree of Man), in which he creates the l i f e history of two simple, ordinary Australians; but at the same time they are quite extraordinary Australians whose half-articulate consciousnesses focus on values quite other than those h.r\ characteristic of "the Great Australian Emptiness." And in another place White again asserts the contradiction be-tween the vision of the a r t i s t and the values of society, this time using the terms "reality" and "the superficial" 2 9 to convey the o p p o s i t i o n s I have the same i d e a with a l l my books» an attempt to come c l o s e to the core of r e a l i t y , the s t r u c t u r e of r e a l i t y , as opposed to the merely s u p e r f i c i a l . The r e a l i s t i c n o v e l i s remote from a r t . A n o v e l should h e i g h t e n l i f e , should give one an i l l u m i n a t i n g exper-ience} i t shouldn't s e t out what you know a l r e a d y . ^ * White hopes h i s v i s i o n w i l l produce "an i l l u m i n a t i n g ex-p e r i e n c e , " i n p l a c e of what "you know a l r e a d y , " f o r what we know a l r e a d y i s "the s u p e r f i c i a l , " and what h i s v i s i o n can i l l u m i n a t e f o r us i s "the core of r e a l i t y . " Not to become entangled i n "the s u p e r f i c i a l , " the a r t i s t main-t a i n s , h i s i s o l a t i o n from s o c i e t y , and develops h i s v i s i o n of "the core of r e a l i t y . " In Lawrence's case, the scheme to found the com-munity of Rananim i s an e x c e l l e n t i l l u s t r a t i o n o f the f a c t t h a t the a l i e n a t i o n of the a r t i s t i s not simply misanthrop-i c , but p o s i t i v e and r e v o l u t i o n a r y . H i s statements about Rananim show the i n h e r e n t s o c i a l o u t l o o k of an a r t i s t o f " s p e c i a l p e r c e p t i o n s " he wants s o c i e t y , but he wants i t remade a c c o r d i n g to h i s own p e r c e p t i o n s of v a l u e — i n Law-rence's case, the main value b e i n g i n the q u a l i t y of r e -l a t i o n s h i p s between peoples We w i l l a l s o t a l k of my p e t scheme. I want to gather together about twenty s o u l s and s a i l away from t h i s world of war and s q u a l o r and found a l i t t l e c o lony where there s h a l l be no money but a s o r t of communism as f a r 30 as necessaries of l i f e go, and some real decency. It i s to be a colony bui l t up on the real decency which is in each member of the community. A community which is established on the assumption of goodness in the members, instead of the assumption of badness The "pet scheme" was never realized except in the sense that the values i t might have embodied are channelled through f i c t i o n into Lawrence's expression of his vision. So far I've tried to show that the a r t i s t i s alien-ated, that his alienation and isolation are a sort of pose of the a r t i s t behind which he continues to express his vision in art works. His motive for continuing to produce such works is the hope that he w i l l perhaps one day revo-lutionize the society in which he lives (as I think i s clearly implied in the White quote above, about conceiving a new novel at a time when he was in a panic about the "exaltation of the 'average'"). Henry Miller describes this hope of revolution in his "Reflections on Writing!" I am not in revolt against the world order. "I revolutionize," as Blaise Cendrars said of himself. There is a difference. I can as well live on the minus side of the fence as the plus side. Actually I believe myself to be just above these two signs, providing a ratio between them which expresses i t s e l f p lastically, non-ethically, in writing. I believe that one has to pass beyond the sphere and influence of art. Art is only a means to l i f e , to the l i f e more abundant . . . . A l l art, I firmly believe, w i l l one day disappear. But the a r t i s t w i l l remain, and 31 l i f e i t s e l f w i l l become not "an art," but art, i.e. w i l l definitely and for a l l time usurp the f i e l d . In any true sense we are certainly-not yet alive. We are no longer animals,-but we are certainly not yet men. Since the dawn of art every great a r t i s t has been dinning that into us, but few are they who have understood i t . Once art i s really accepted i t w i l l cease to be. It i s only a substitute, a symbol-language for something which can be seized directly. But for that to become possible man must become thoroughly religious, not a believ* er, but a prime mover, a god in fact and deed. And of a l l the detours along this path, art i s the most glorious, the most fecund, the most i n s t r u c t i v e . ^ The a r t i s t "revolutionizes" not against any particular p o l i t i c a l or moral order, but towards the positive re-creation of society in terms of the vision he has of man's r e a l i t i e s . The vision of such an a r t i s t continues to be bodied forth in works, un t i l i t i s no longer needed. At that time, when mankind has made l i f e into art, by seizing directly the values which art works only symbolize, art w i l l disappear. Meanwhile, the vision of the a r t i s t i s "fecund," providing those who can understand i t with l i f e p o s s i b i l i t i e s "more abundant." How exactly does the antagonism between a r t i s t and society produce this dynamic motivation to revolu-tionize society's vision? Why should the a r t i s t care? These questions can't easily be answered, but i t does seem that there exists a perpetual struggle between the 32 conservatism of society and the revolutionism of the a.r~ t i s t , which i s the very l i f e - f o r c e of the communication of the art work. The i n t e g r i t y of each side of the struggle demands the submission of the other; and the demand? :cori4.u tinues to be re s i s t e d on both sidesi "That's not what Aus-t r a l i a n society i s l i k e ! " shout the reviewers of White's n o v e l s . ^ "The dingoes are howling!" White c r i e s back.^5 A lead a r t i c l e i n Saturday Review complains that " i n book af t e r book now," Faulkner "has dropped tears l i k e the famed Arabian tree, i n a rapture of s e n s i b i l i t y amounting to con-tinuous orgasm. The medium i n which h i s novels e x i s t i s lachrymal, and i n Absalom. Absalom! that disconsolate fog reaches i t s greatest concentration to d a t e . " ^ Faulkner ignores such enmity and writes on, confident that what he i s doing w i l l " u p l i f t man's heart," and not be "just a 4 7 series of horror stories that are e s s e n t i a l l y f a l s e . " ' I t appears that only i n t h i s struggle between a r t i s t and society can the a r t i s t ' s v i s i o n achieve a moral or i l l u - a t minating function, a revolution of sight. The a r t i s t who submits to the dictates of common perception and common taste loses h i s v i s i o n ; his antennae (to twist Pound's image of the a r t i s t as the antenna of the race) have be-come gummed to the public g u l l e t ; h i s s c r i p t s become re-cipes of experience which i s already known and accepted; 33 he is society's lackey, no longer his own man. Lawrence, in his book reviews, demonstrates just this distinction between art which i s created from conventional perceptions (and which i s therefore useless), and art w&ich proceeds from the private vision of the a r t i s t . In a review of an American verse anthology, for instance, he invents a memor-able, scathing image for the f i r s t kind of arts [It's] as i f the whole nation had whispered or chanted i t s inner experience into the ear of a gramophone. And the bulk of the whisperings and murmurings would be candyi sweet nothings, tender t r i f l e s , and amusing things.^"8 Lawrence's particular objection i s that the verse a l l seems to him derivative; i t has no "strange sound" in i t to make us "prick our ears*" There i s an element of danger in a l l new utterance. We prick our ears like an animal in a wood at a strange sound. Alas ! though there is a modicum of "strange sound" in this contemporary spir-i t u a l record, we are not the animal to prick our ears at i t . Sounds sweetly fam-i l i a r , linked in a new crochet pattern. "Christ, what are patterns for?" But why invoke Deity? Ask the Ladies Home Journal. You may know a new utterance by the element of danger in i t . ' The vision of these poets appears to Lawrence very like White's catalogue of the "Great Australian Emptiness" quoted abovet their values are "a nut sundae or a new beau, a baby or an automobile, a divorce or a troublesome 3 4 appendix." Lawrence would have them seek new vision, l e t their sky "crack like a glass" and release them from the "goldfish bowl" they live i n . To achieve that renaissance, Lawrence says, i t takes somebody "to jump like a desperate clown through the vast blue hoop of the upper a i r . Or hack a slow way through the dome of crystal." Likewise, in reviewing the Russian novelist Rozanov, Lawrence again draws the distinction between poor art, which draws on the familiar, and fine art, which has a new voicei the worst of Rozanov contains "characters such as Dostoievsky has familiarized us with, and of whom we are tired," while the best contains "the voice of the new man in him."^9 To stay within the bounds of social familiarity i s death to the art i s t ; he must be willing to jump through the sky "like a desperate clowni" no matter who laughs at or de-rides him. As the a r t i s t struggles against society, so so-ciety keeps up i t s end of the struggle. It does so largely through the mediation of literary c r i t i c s , and, at the more popular level, reviewers. In time, norms change and the "radical" vision of the ar t i s t becomes acceptable, not to say standard. Thus the artists—and Lawrence is typical here—who reap violent censure today, are standard subjects of study tomorrow. Middleton Murry's many re-evaluations 35 of Lawrence texts that he had previously damned, provide a capsule i l l u s t r a t i o n of this process of continual struggle. In 1920 Murry sees The Lost G i r l as "a return to the slime from which we rose," but eleven years later he speaks of i t as an affirmation of sensitive and i n t e l -ligent l i f e . 5 0 For his part, the functional a r t i s t of vision maintains a distance of incomprehension between himself and his readers,51 which i s the dynamic tension on which his art function feeds; he does so by developing ever new vision beyond the slowly shifting norms. As long as society continues to struggle against him, so i t con-tinues to absorb his earlier distortions of normal v i s i o n — without yet accepting the new distortions. Earlier dis-tortions become society's new norms, as the Murry quote suggests in a general way. The great a r t i s t of vision may be defined as one who, by inscrutable means, continues to induce society to struggle against him, to deny the truth of his perceptions with a hostile vehemence which w i l l later tend to turn into approbatory enthusiasm. The a r t i s t who ceases to engage society's opposition loses the struggle, and society gains nothing new from him. (Many aspects of the struggle are delineated in the portrait of the a r t i s t contained in The Vivisector, as I shall show in my last chapter.) 36 Not a l l a r t i s t s , of course, stand in antagonis-tic relationship to society. Jane Austen, Thackeray, Tennyson, Fielding, Robert Frost, Graham Greene . . . many names spring immediately to mind of writers whom we ac-claim as artists without question, but with whom society has had no great or bitter quarrel. Conversely there are those artists with whom society has been profoundly disgusted from time to time, but whose status as artists seems to us comparatively slight: Frank Norris, Dreiser, Cleland (Fannv H i l l ) , the Earl of Rochester, Oscar Wilde, and so on. These exceptions certainly tend to contradict any sweeping assertion I might make relating a r t i s t i c stature to social repudiation; but that i s not my inten-tion. I am talking about only one kind of ar t i s t , the "art i s t of vision," who, for reasons probably stemming from the disintegration of public values in the modern world, chooses to offer in his art a radically new basis of real-ism to society. There are no obvious radicals in the f i r s t group of names above; their vision of l i f e i s by and large conservative, socially familiar and acceptable. And the second group of names includes those who are often radical in outlook, but whose weaknesses of range and craftsman-ship relegate them to the category of minor a r t i s t s . Not every a r t i s t outrages society, and not every outrageous 3 7 writer i s an a r t i s t . But where the phenomenon arises of a person whose vision of l i f e i s strange enough and new e-nough to unsettle some basic security in social thought, and whose g i f t and s k i l l of craftsmanship can produce, as vehicle for that vision, intense and believable images of l i f e , than we have an "artist of vision." To such an art-i s t , the conflict which inevitably arises between himself and society provides some kind of inner energy of creation. (There i s perhaps a new relevance in this context of Christ's warning to his disciples to beware when a l l men speak well of them»^2 not only does the universal accept-ance indicate a corrupt evangelism, like that of the false prophets, but the disciples are in danger of losing their drive, without the stimulus of opposition. The f i r s t Christians, like "the a r t i s t of vision," were concerned with offering society a radically new basis of r e a l i t y — a view of l i f e in Salvationist terms.) At this point my description of and argument for the existence of a dynamic of vision i s formally complete. But in order to emphasize the intensity of the force in-volved, I should like to focus on certain texts which show evidence of enmity and anger between the a r t i s t and his society. Most such evidence can be found in letters and other discursive and informal writings of the artists 38 themselves. Henry Miller, for example, becomes quite angry at the suggestion made to him that he belongs in a literary tradition, and thereby has an established place in society. In a letter, he writest But again, when you talk of the litera r y tradition, I can't follow you. I regard myself, like many other writers too, as being outside 'the literary tradition.' In fact, that i s what I set out to k i l l . • • . What I owe to tradition i s the urge to destory it.53 "To k i l l , " "to destroy," "like many other writers too". . . there's a certain irony here in which Miller joins the ranks of the unrankedt an army of k i l l e r s , wielding the mighty pen! Lawrence sees the ar t i s t as a man with a knife who goes around cutting s l i t s in the "umbrella" of re-ceived 'perceptions by which people in any society protect themselves from seeing an "unspeakable inner chaos. Society.then patches over the s l i t s with a "weak simu-lacrum" of the vision outside, but a relentless army of artists keep pulling out their knives and s l i t t i n g the fabric again and again. The poet is at war with society. He i s "the enemy of convention," in the guise of "lion, " "unicorn," and "leopard that may snarl."55 One of'-the Twentieth Century's most aggressive and angry "artists of vision" was the Australian painter and novelist, Norman Lindsay. Even more than Lawrence's, 39 Lindsay's discursive writings reveal a t e r r i f i c force of h o s t i l i t y against the institutions of society. In 1924 he published a double volume designed to show how the vision of the a r t i s t provides a means of transcending the r e l i -gious conservatism which, he f e l t , held people's minds in a narcotic prison. The tone of the books throughout i s vehement, and both the tone and the theme of specific pas-sages reveal the antagonism he feels between the "highest morality" of the a r t i s t , and the "lowest morality" of religious b e l i e f J That good and kindly people accept a creed, does not vindicate the creed, but the simplicity of good and kindly people. A l l one can say i s that perhaps such people would be better without a creed, for they would add tolerance to goodness and kindness, and that would be so much gained. But goodness and kindness, a l l that i s understood by the humanitarian instinct, exist by necessity, as part of the social structure. It is self protective most where i t seeks to protect others . . . . As the highest morality i s expressed in asserting the individual vision of L i f e — in going alone, so the lowest moxality ex-ist s in a general expression of belief, in agreeing to a common formula suitable to . the lowest intelligence in the community.5° Lindsay's contempt for those of "lowest intelligencer' who refuse to "go i t alone," i s transferred into an attack on the priests, who, he says, create social inertia by the "bribe" of faith in salvation. By contrast, the creative artists challenge men to develop "the individual belief 4 0 in life."57 For this educational service, the artists can expect no reward or recognition in this l i f e , but only the constant danger that they w i l l be "torn to pieces by wolves, and trampled on by pigs." By this time in the book, Lindsay's anger i s flowing j u i c i l y , and he lets f l y at the churcht They discard the whine of the mendicant, the rags of poverty. Where they once begged, now they demand. The active ones among them dress up in uniforms, red robes, lace, gold t i n s e l . They adorn their shad-ow currency of "Spiritual good" also in fancy dress, r i t u a l , mysticism, chanting, and incense. Finally they borrow help of the highest impulse, of Art, in order to make this masquerade of dignity impres-sive to the common mind. What J The Catholic church has en-couraged Art! Yes, the dunghill encouraged the rose to grow in order that a l l might admire the dunghill.58 A l l this emotional excess and uncontrolled petulance, in a book supposedly devoted to aesthetics, shows once more how the a r t i s t nourishes his own alienation from society, by anger. The context of anger i s particularly noticeable in Australia. Patrick White refers to his c r i t i c s , in a passage quoted above, as "dingoes howling," and in another place he's quoted as saying "the c r i t i c s have murdered his plays, and that he won't do any more."59 Yet the truth, as John Rorke demonstrated a few years ago, i s that the vast 41 majority of c r i t i c s have been extraordinarily generous and laudatory, to the point of adulation at times.^° White, i t appears, would rather remember the hostile re-views than the adulatoryi . . . I am anathema to certain kinds of Australian intellectual. It i r r i t a t e s me when I think of some of those academic turds, and the great Panjandrum of Can-berra who described my writings as P^e? tentious and i l l i t e r a t e verbal sludge." 1 The last phrase quoted here i s a reference to A. D. Hope's review of The Tree of Man in a Sydney newspaper, eleven years previously. The fact that White remembers the single, stinging phrase, and revives i t by quoting i t in an inter-view, and the fact that he never once mentions—in this interview or anywhere e l s e — h i s acceptance by the majority of his c r i t i c s , suggests that he i s perversely tenacious of h o s t i l i t y between himself and his society. Like Norman Lindsay, he finds himself surrounded by a materialistic society whose values he despises. In the discrepancy be-tween his values and society's, some angry motive drives the a r t i s t to objectify his vision in an art work. And because the Australian cultural conditions perhaps make for the enlargement of this discrepancy to unusual pro-portions, the tension reverberates from the artists to their c r i t i c s and followers. Indeed, Australian literary 42 criticism is some of the angriest and least controlled in the English-speaking world. The following quotation, referring to the Hope review mentioned above, epitomizes this tendency! A. D. Hope (Sydney Morning Herald) had the time of his l i f e . In his f i r s t eighteen paragraphs he laughed the novel out of court. Then he brought i t back into court by suddenly crediting the author with "passionate and tender concern, a sense of the mystery of a l l l i v i n g , the a b i l i t y to create real people and a real world for them to live i n " . This was part of the game; the next move was a prim l i t t l e cur-tain lecture on what a novelist should be and do. Ridicule re-entered the fray with a series of quotations ripped out of their context. There was one extraordinary pas-sage in which the author of "The Lingam-. and the Yoni," of a l l people, confronted by a compassionate endeavour to convey the inwardness of a man's lovemaking with his wife, was so embarrassed that he cried for a row of asterisks. Returning soon to his game, this catlike c r i t i c again resuscitated his mauled mouse, going so far as to declare that "he shows on every page some touch of the born writer," only to slaughter him at long last by denounc-ing an essential component of his style as "pretentious and i l l i t e r a t e verbal sludge."°2 Thus not just the ar t i s t , but the c r i t i c s too maintain the animosity which helps to motivate the a r t i s t . The climate in which the a r t i s t produces his vision and publicizes i t is whizzing with angry exchange. Far from trying to avoid such social tension, the "ar t i s t of vision" courts i t , as a means of releasing his creative energies. Norman Lindsay, 43 for instance, refused to keep his socially obnoxious art out of the public gaze, as his son t e l l s us* In his exhibited pictures, which attacked the ideaseof sin and pollution, and which affirmed the joyous, ruthlesssfelcundityryof" l i f e , he continually risked prosecution and imprisonment. Again and again the bishops and the whole pecksniffian press shouted for his suppression. He could easily have kept  his drawings quiet, sold them direct to col-lectors, but he'insisted on public shows, (my emphasis Lindsay offered his dionysiac vision to a community whose values were the rugged, u t i l i t a r i a n values of the pioneer, the explorer, the miner, the bush ranger, and they rewarded him accordingly with abuse and even physical attack. .Patrick White cherishes the wounds infli c t e d by his attackers, and keeps on writing. Lawrence spends his l i f e in obstinacy and anger; censored and suppressed, he keeps churning out the books containing his vision. Faulkner defines the dy-namic of vision in a nutshell* "I don't think the writer finds peace. If he did, he would quit writing. In the course of my argument so far, I have shown in part how c r i t i c s get involved in the dynamic tension ex-isting between ar t i s t and society, even helping to create i t . The question ^arises, "Is such partisan and emotional involvement the best role a c r i t i c can play in this con-text?" Certainly i f the h o s t i l i t y of a c r i t i c works like the 44 grain of sand in an oyster, and helps the a r t i s t to pro-duce his pearl, I would not want to suggest a different function which would deprive us of that pearl. However, i t does seem to me that both a r t i s t and his public might expect another useful function to be performed by the c r i t i c — i l l u m i n a t i o n . Let the popular reviewers and the egg-throwing members of the public i r r i t a t e the a r t i s t into producing his pearls, i f that i r r i t a t i o n i s neces-sary. Let more sober c r i t i c s do what they can to bring the artist's vision, unmuddied, into the focus of public attention. What- kind<>of criticism w i l l achieve this fo-cussing? My answer l i e s in the work I have tried to do in the six chapters ahead. However, one or two guiding-principles seem to emerge from the theory of vision as I have so far developed i t . F i r s t l y , as I have argued, "the novelist of vision" defamiliarizes reality in offering us his vision. Therefore i t seems essential that the c r i t i c should scrup-ulously avoid any temptation to reverse that process by making the defamiliarized vision once more familiar. The vast majority of c r i t i c s of the six novels here studied, seem to me to have fallen directly into this error. For example, in The Man Who Died. Lawrence strikingly and startlingly distorts the Christ story, in order to render 45 his "special perception" of l i f e . Along comes a c r i t i c who t e l l s us that this book "can be appreciated better, can be understood and assimilated better, i f i t i s ana-lyzed through a parallel body of thought having an outlook similar to i t s own, through a body of thought in which Lawrence's views and ouncepts w i l l be accepted as genuine and reliable and not classified as 'heretical.'"^^ The particular "parallel body of thought" suggested i s "the approach,to l i f e as signified in the Vedas." This c r i -t i c ' s suggestion i s , then, that i t i s better to under-stand and assimilate The Man Who Died as an orthodox text in the .Vedic tradition, than to be startled by i t s heresy. I don't at a l l deny that a comparison with the thought contained in the Vedas might be an interesting, though peripheral, consideration for a reader. But to suggest that that approach i s the best one i s to work against the function of defamiliarization which Lawrence has achieved in his novel. To offer a reader a means of seeing an ab-normal thing as normal i s to change the nature of his re-lationship with that thing; in the case of "the novel of vision" i t amounts to robbing the novelist of his capacity to catch the reader off-guard. A number of other examples of c r i t i c a l attempts to (so to speak) "refamiliarize the defamiliarized" are noted in the individual chapters a-head. 46 A second guiding principle for c r i t i c s of "the novel of vision" i s related conversely to the f i r s t i i t seems to me that since a "novelist of vision" i s , by my definition, deliberately using words and structures in a particular, idiosyncratic way to present reality as he sees i t , the c r i t i c can best illuminate such a novel by immediately confronting the way in which that reality is presented. That's a vague statement. What the principle leads to in practice i s that the c r i t i c begins by asking the question, "What are the terms of this book?"—and by "terms" I mean the entire f i c i t i o n a l medium as a reader experiences i t . In other words i t seems to me that the c r i t i c , in order to illuminate the text for a reader, should make a judgment about what seem to be the strong-est-acting forces in the book, and focus his attention on those. If this seems an obvious principle to have stated, i t certainly isn't one that has been followed by the ma-jority of c r i t i c s . Again and again I give instances in the chapters ahead, of c r i t i c s who seem to me to have avoided dealing with a novel on i t s own terms, in and for i t s e l f as a piece of fi c t i o n , and instead have interpreted the novel as evidence or example of something else. To put i t most simply* a c r i t i c who wishes to illuminate a novel by showing that i t s structure i s that of, say, the ^7 traditional epic poem, may well be diverted from his pur-pose and end up illuminating the structure of traditional epics, using the novel as pretext; in such a ease the novelist's vision slides out of focus. Finally, a note on c r i t i c a l terminology. The inherent novelty of "the novel of vision" inevitably chal-lenges the lexicon of c r i t i c a l terms in common use. In order not to f a l s i f y or detract from the novelist's -?. achievement of defamiliarization, i t seems to me that the c r i t i c should freely adopt or invent terms to define that achievement. Thus for instance I use many terms with special meanings which I define, among them "motif," "vid-eologue," "rhythm," "defamiliarize," and of course, "novel of vision." Some such terms may have no use outside of a particular book examined; so much the better. The more flui d and adaptable our c r i t i c a l terminology remains, the less i s the danger of our imposing preconceived thought structures on the novels c r i t i c i z e d (though obviously i t ' s important to make clear what we mean by any term we use in an unconventional sense). i i i THE TOOLS OF VISIONt TECHNIQUES Any novelist has two basic tools at his disposali the immediate texture of language, and the larger 48 structures into which i t i s arranged. Through the flow of words he engages the reader, minute by minute, in the con-tinuum of consciousness. The words and images, paragraphs of description, explanation and narration, constitute the "now" of the communication between writer and reader* and the quality of the flow of language therefore determines the quality of perception offered* simple or complex, new or familiar, interesting or dull, logical or i l l o g i c a l , credible or incredible, t r i v i a l or serious, joyous or sickening, and so forth. By his use of language, line by line, the writer conveys his sensibility in direct com-munication, speech. Through larger structures the writer may convey something indirect* not so much his way of seeing as his way of making sense of the totality of what he sees—or of inviting \xs to make sense of that totality* not so much his sensibility, as the way in which his intellect responds philosophically or schematically to the experience por-trayed. The structure of a novel i s not experienced in a flowing continuum, as the flow of language i s , but in or-dered moments of realization which aggregate f i n a l l y into a stable perspective. To understand this difference, i t is helpful to imagine a novel as a person's l i f e * a novel, like a person, is made up of a continuum of consciousness (the immediate texture of language in the novel) and the 4 9 form of events which that consciousness passes through (the structure of the novel). We are not totally aware of a novel u n t i l we have finished reading i t , just as we are not f u l l y aware of a man's l i f e t i l l i t i s completed in death; hut at the same time, when we finish reading the novel we have already forgotten some of the detail on page 6 3 , just as, when a man dies, the nature of his conscious-ness at some moment the November before last has become buried in memory. We derive one kind of knowledge from the "is-ness" of the man li v i n g , and we see him in another way when his l i f e i s over. Similarly, the flow of language gives us the "is-ness" of the writer's story, and at the end i t becomes a new entity for us by virtue of being com-plete in a particular shape and outcome. "The novelist of vision" differs from other nov-el i s t s in using either or both of his primary tools (lan-guage and structure) to create an unusual new vision of the reality of l i f e . By language steadily flowing through the pages, he inducts us into the world of his particular sen-s i b i l i t y , and by structure he conveys tha placing of that sensibility in time, his philosophic scheme or outlook. The two together, sensibility, and philosophic scheme (which we might c a l l simply "metaphysic"), constitute his vision. Often, his use of one of these elements i s more radical 50 and innovative than the other. For instance, in Lawrence structure is often quite conventional, whereas in Faulkner structure tends to be as unusual as the texture of the language. It follows from what I've said so far, that the c r i t i c of "a novel of vision" has a simple and useful strat-egy available to himt in confronting such a novel on i t s own terms he can usually divide his attention between the immediate flow of language, and the larger structural ele-ments. Not that the two can be totally separated; but in order to manage his work of illumination, the c r i t i c can consider those fine details of texture which build up the s e n s i b i l i t y — o r idiom—of vision, and those larger, formal effects which create the overall scheme or metaphysic of vision. My reader w i l l see ahead how I use this strategy to make my chapter divisions. For instance, in considering The Aunt's Story, I f i r s t treat elements which I c a l l "ex-ternal structure," "internal structure," and "the Theodora archetype," a l l of which are uses of the second basic tool I've described, larger structure; I then examine motif usage and e l l i p t i c a l syntax, both of which are uses of the f i r s t basic tool, the flow of language. By such division, arising from the distinctions between basic tools of the novelist, I hope to have produced a piece of criticism which has a clear order derived from the craft of f i c t i o n i t s e l f . 51 Because of i t s inherent strangeness, "the novel of vision" does not conform to any technical model. Each book presents the reality of i t s subject matter in ways peculiar to each author's unique vision. One has e l l i p -t i c a l sentences, another has run-on sentences; one has a standard, chronological time scheme, another contains se-vere disjunctions of time, and so on. Nevertheless, I find one particular characteristic common to a l l the novels studied in this dissertation, which seems worth discussing here in the introduction, namely a particular way in which extraordinary images are used. Earlier, I referred to the fact that "a novelist of vision" invents his own language, for the purpose of creating a texture of his own idiosyncratic vision of real-i t y . The following contrast w i l l help to c l a r i f y my pointi In -Einnegans Wake, Joyce writesi Reefer was a wenchman. One c a l l smell off his wetsments, how he is coming from a breach of promisck. But here Joyce is not performing the function of "a novel-i s t of vision," for his invented words are essentially mimetic in a perfectly familiar way. The language is new, but i t does not create an idiosyncratic vision, i t does not defamiliarize experience; i t defamiliarizes words in order to make them symbolize entirely familiar experiences 52 of r e a l i t y . Crudely, we can translate the language back into formal English thus* "From the smell of sexual f l u -ids on his damp clothing one can t e l l that Reefer has just come from one of his frequent sessions with a wench—a promiscuous act, and a betrayal of some loyalty." Even i f we extrapolate the subtleties, such as the connotation of "sick" in the form "promisck," we s t i l l are not jolted out of the world in which our minds move familiarly. But when White writes* Maroon roses, the symbols of roses, shouted through megaphones at the brass bed. Remem-bering the flesh of roses, the roselight snoozing in the veins, she regretted the age of symbols, she regretted the yellow object beside the bed which served the purpose of a chair. She could not love the chair, or rather, she could not love i t yet,"7 we are l o s t F i n d i n g ourselves on completely unfamiliar ground in reading such a passage, we cast around for some handle which w i l l l i f t the meaning clear for us. If that f a i l s , we tend to shrug the passage off as something too "poetic" for us, and pass on.68 However, i f we're w i l l -ing to submit to re-education in the process of reading White's novel, we can learn how a technique i s operating here, and come to understand what Theodora (the conscious-ness here) feels, and why. Our eyes may be opened to a vision of roselight snoozing in the veins (for instance) which may become part of our own sensibility, even our speech. 53 The technique used here i s obviously a kind of symbolism. But "symbolism," like "poetic," i s too inclu-sive for c r i t i c a l use. The characteristics of the tech-nique are« f i r s t , repetition of a symbolic word within a framework of meaning established by associations or con-trasts in the text; and second, subtle variations in the repetition, which provide the reader with an index of some kind of development—essentially what Forster and E. K. Brown c a l l " r h y t h m . T h e fact of subtle—sometimes not so subtle—variation makes "emblem" too r i g i d a term to use for the technique. The term "leitmotiv," borrowed from music criticism and commonly used for techniques of this type, I find just too ponderous for convenient use, as well as slightly inappropriate; for me leitmotiv carries a certain romantic connotation which I would wish to avoid, since i t jars with the contexts in which I find the tech-nique frequently used. 1 should prefer the simpler term "motif," and I intend to use i t with the definition sup-plied above.70 To show in detail how the technique oper-ates, I return to the White passage quoted. In the context, Theodora has just arrived at the Hotel du Midi, and has been shown to her room by Henriette. The passage quoted contains her f i r s t impressions as she turns to survey her new bedroom. Alienated and weary, 54 Theodora has broken away from Australia to seek some kind of new reality and satisfaction for her l i f e , in Europe. Now she has travelled thousands of miles from city to city, only to find disappointment of a l l her expectations. She comes to the Hostel du Midi, her last hope. She sees ar-t i f i c i a l roses, the brass bed, a yellow chair. The roses shout at the bed and the chair i s unloveable. Superficially, i t ' s obvious that Theo doesn't much like her room. But there is much more than that in the passage—in fact the whole theme of the book is implicit in this single para-graph, carried through the motif of the rose. One of The-odora's earliest memories is of picking roses and finding bugs in them, and we are told that she accepted the reality of the bug in the rose, and could not subtract i t . At the end of the book, the last image we have of Theodora in her f i n a l state of alienation, i s an image of her hat on which a black, a r t i f i c i a l rose trembles. The roses Theodora sees, or which are connected with her are symbols of her spi r i t u a l condition? or, to put i t another way, we might say that the way she looks at roses indicates the way she regards l i f e , at any given stage of her story. Here, at the H&tel du Midi, she sees only the symbols of roses—paper roses presumably— and this corresponds with her dessicated state of conscious-ness. Her body is like an object misplaced in another 55 world; she i s like the symbol of a person, not the real thing. She remembers the days when she f e l t young and more alive in the flesh, days in which she moseyed around in her mother's rosegarden, and she regrets the age of symbols. The meaning here i s quite complex, for we re-member that i t i s the process of thinking, of symboliza-tion, which led her in the f i r s t place away from simple childish l i v i n g , through a recognition that l i f e i s a rose with bugs in i t , to a mature state of frustration and alienation. The fact that the roses are shouting at the bed i s similarly rich in meaning! the bed i s the place of copulation and death and birth, and the unloved, a l i -enated;. Theodora feels the shouted challenge of her unful-f i l l e d l i f e in the presence of the symbol of marriage and death, and birth. At the end, we have the black rose on Theodora's hat—where we can see i t , but she can't—sug-gesting that her l i f e has become totally schizoid. She i s l i v i n g a kind of death of the flesh, a l i f e totally in her own mind, as though the black bug in the rose of her child-hood has taken over the whole flower. Her consciousness denies the reality of flesh, which i s rosy, and which dies, and i t accepts that which exists in the mind as the only r e a l i t y — t h e black rose, placed where she can't even see i t . P6 The complexity and subtlety which the use of motifs lends i t s e l f to i s astonishing, and demands extreme-ly detailed treatment, i f one i s to bring out a l l the mean-ings connoted. For instance, in the treatment of the rose motif just given, I haven't mentioned the chair. I could continue my discussion by showing how the motif of furni-ture exists in the book, and how i t s meaning here interacts with the rose motif to produce an additional layer of ex-perience rendered in the idiom of White's vision. But since this i s only an ill u s t r a t i o n , I ' l l stop here. Hope-ful l y , in the analyses which follow the function of various techniques w i l l become clear, as I attempt to illuminate the strange textures of vision produced in six separate novels. 57 FOOTNOTES 1 William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom I (New Yorki Random House, 1 9 6 4 ) , p. lzZ~, Subsequent page references to this work are incorporated in the text. 2 William Troy, for instance, t i t l e d his review of the novel "The Poetry of Doom," Nation. 143 (31 Octo-ber 1936), 524-525. Troy refers throughout to the " l y r -i c a l " qualities of Faulkner's vision. A l l the major reviewers of the novel on i t s f i r s t appearance in 1936 comment on the unusual style, and many of them use catch-, a l l terms such as "poetic." The following i s typical* "there are passages of great power and beauty . • . and cother passages which . • • drop into a pure blank verse and-are estimable for their sheer verbal music," New  York Times Book Review, 1 November 1936, p. 7. The same use of vague catchalls i s true of the reviews and c r i t i -cism containing f i r s t reactions to many of the works of the three novelists studied in this dissertation. John Barnes, noting this tendency, complains that "terms like 'myth,' 'visionary,' •metaphysical,1 and 'poetic' have been used by White's c r i t i c s , particularly those who ad-mire his work, with a reckless disregard for their pre-cise values," "A Note on Patrick White's Novels," An Introduction to Australian Literature, ed. C . D. Nara-simhaiah (Mysore, 1964 published as a special issue of The Literary CriteriorT]. rpt. Brisbane! Jacaranda Press, 1965)# p. 9 4 . J 7 McCormick,sin Catastrophe  and Imagination (Londoni Longmans, 1957)» pp» 42-66, makes an interesting study of the phenomenon of "poetic prose." Berating c r i t i c s (including Howe on Faulkner) who use catchall phrases but do not investigate the language of f i c t i o n minutely, McCormick goes on to argue that the presence of "poetic" elements in f i c t i o n results from cultural catastrophes in which our public values are supplanted confusingly b y the private vision of writers. ^ "Like a skein of loose s i l k blown against a wall / She walks b y the r a i l i n g of a path / in Kensington Gardens / And she is dying piece-meal / of a sort of emotional anaemia." From "The Garden," Selected Poems, rev. (Londoni Faber, 19^ 9)» P» 92. 4 The earliest recorded use of the term of which I am aware is Sir Walter Scott's comment on Mrs. Radcliffe, that she was "the f i r s t to introduce into her prose fictions a beautiful and fanciful tone of natural description and impressive narrative which had hitherto been exclusively applied to poetry . . . . Mrs. Radcliffe has a t i t l e to 58 be considered the f i r s t poetess of romantic f i c t i o n . " Preface to Vol x of Ballantyne Novelists Library (1824), reproduced in loan Williams ed., S i r Walter Scott on  Novelists and Fiction (Londoni Routledge, 1968) p. 1 0 3 . 5 Patrick White, The Aunt's Story (19^-81 rpt. Londoni Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1958), p. 116. ^ Virginia Woolf, Jacob*s Room. 3rd ed. (Londoni Hogarth, 19^5), p. 108. ? D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent (1926; rpt. Londoni Heinemann "Phoenix" ed., 1955) PP« 297-298. 8 F. R. Leavis, D. H. Lawrences Novelist (1957I rpt. Londoni Chatto, 1962), p. 62. 9 M. C. Dawson, rev. of As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, Books. 5 October 1930, p« 6. 1 ° D. L. Mann, rev. of Absalomf Absalom!. by William Faulkner, Boston Transcript, 31 October 1936, p. 6. 1 1 R. F. Brissenden, "Patrick White," Mean.iin Quarterly 18, 4 (1959), 411. Brissenden i s referring to instances of sentence fragmentation in Voss. Commenting on White's style generally he saysi "Although in a l l the novels there are passages of great power and beauty, much of his writing seemsPcrabbed, awkward, and unnecessarily mannered. Even the most adulatory of his c r i t i c s could not deny that the style i s one thing the reader i s never able to forgeti to some extent the words seem to stand between the reader and the characters." 12 Arnold Kettle, An Introduction to the English Novel (Londoni Hutchinson U. Library, 1951)» H# 1966. 1 3 Kettle, 170. 14 AH" F. R. Leavis, The Great Tradition (1948i rpt. New Yorkt N. Y. U. Press, 1963), pp. 1192-19^. 1^ Christopher Caudwell, Illusion and Realityi A Study  of the Sources of Poetry. 2nd ed. (1937« rpt. Londoni Lawrence & Wishart, 1946), pp. 281-283. Shklovsky, pp. 3-24. 17 Shklovsky, p. 12. 1 8 In the "Preface" to "The Nigger of The Narcissus." Conrad makes a comparable distinction, between the "external" world of science, and the "internal" world of art. 59 19 Shklovsky, p. 18. 2 0 Shklovsky, p. 18. 21 Shklovsky, p. 12. 22 David Lodge, Language of Fictioni Essays in C r i t i c - ism and Verbal Analysis of the English Novel (London* Rout-ledge, 1966), pp. 243 - 2 5 0 .Lodge derives the terms "modern" and "contemporary" with these special meanings from Stephen Spender, The Struggle of the Modern (Londoni Hamish Hamilton, I963), pp. 104-105. 2 3 Lodge, p. 244. 2 4 Lodge, p. 245. 2 5 Lodge, p. 243. 2 6 Lodge, p. 245. 2 7 Lodge, pp, 248-249. ^° Cowley's function in this regard has been well documented in The Faulkner-Cowley File* Letters and Memor- ies 1944-1962 (New Yorkt Viking, 1966). 2 9 Harry T. Moore, "Introduction" to Anais Nin, D. H.  Lawrencet An Unprofessional Study (1932; rpt. Chicago* Swallow, 1964), p.8. 3° Peter Shrubb, "Patrick White* Chaos Accepted," Quadrant. 53 (May-June, 1969)* 9» 19• 31 Time; 28 July 1967, p. 67. 3 2 Letter to Catherine Carswell dated 23 January 1919. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. Aldous Huxley (London* Heinemann, 1932), p. 465. 33 During this period Lawrence appears to have brooded angrily and written very l i t t l e for two or three years, but in November 1919 he went to Italy where "he began to write prodigously,"—about the English of course (for instance he completed The Lost Gj.rl soon after arriving in Italy). Harry T. Moore and Warren Roberts, D. H. Lawrence and his  World (London* Thames & Hudson, 1966), p. 68. 34 The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, p. 465. 35 There are many anecdotes of Faulkner's isolation-ism in the authentic record of memories, James W. Webb and A. Wigfall Green, eds., William Faulkner of Oxford (Baton 60 Rougei Louisiana State U. Press, 1965)» and in the somewhat less authoritative Robert Coughlan, The Private World of  William Faulkner (New Yorki Harper, 1954)•Faulkner him-self speaks with bitter vehemence against reporters who would make him an unwilling member of "that identityless anonymous unprivacied mass which seems to be our goal," in his Essays Speeches and Public Lectures, ed. James B. Meriwether,(New Yorki Random House, 1965), p. 71. ^ Lion in the Gardens Interviews with William Faulkner 1926-1962, eds. James B. Meriwether and Michael Millgate (New Yorki Random House, 1968), pp. 228-231. 3? Lion in the Garden, p. 234. 3 8 Lion in the Garden, pp. 193-19*+. 39 Patrick White, "The Prodigal Son," Australian Letters. 1 (1958), 38-39. 4 0 For detailed analysis of the consciousnesses of Stan and Amy Parker, the central characters i n this novel, see my "The Vision of Alienationi An Analytical Approach to the Works of Patrick White through the F i r s t Four Novels," M. A. Thesis U,gf British Columbia 1966, pp. 101-137* 41 In She Making, ed. Craig McGregor (Sydneyi Nelson, 1969), p. 219. 42 Letter to W. E. Hopkin dated 18 January 1915* The  Letters of D. H. Lawrence, p. 215. 4 3 Henry Miller, "Reflections on Writing," in The  Creative Process, ed. Brewster Ghiselin (Berkeleyi U. of California Press, 1952) pp. 181-182, also available in Miller's The Wisdom of the Heart (New Yorki New Directions, 1941). ^ The most recent example is not a review but a c r i t i c a l a r t i c l e , Terry Smith, "A Portrait of the Art i s t in Patrick White's The Vivisector." Mean.iin Quarterly. 31* 2 (June 1972), 167-177. Smith argues that the main character in this novel is not plausible as an Australian a r t i s t . 4 5 White, "The Prodigal Son," 39. 4 6 Bernard de Voto, "Witchcraft in Mississippi," Saturday  Review of Literature. 15 (31 October 1936), p. 4. 7^ d e v 0to, p. 14. 48 D. H. Lawrence, Phoenix (Londoni Heinemann, 1936), P. 332. 61 ^ Lawrence, Pheenix. pp. 367, 371« Lawrence*s attitudes to Rozanov are extensively discussed in George J. Zytaruk, D. H. Lawrence's Response to Russian Literature (The Hague1 Mouton, 1971)» pp. 144-168. 5 Q The quotation i s from Murry's 1920 review of the book reprinted in his Reminiscences of D. H. Lawrence (Londoni Cape, I933), p. 217. The reevaluation can be found in his D. H. Lawrence, Son of Woman (1931; rpt. Londoni Cape, 195^), pp. 143-151. 5 1 A typical statement from sucll an a r t i s t i s that he does not consider his readers. Patrick White says, "I am not writing for an audience; I am writing, and i f I have an audience I am very glad." In the Making, p. 220. 5 2 Luke 6, 261 "Woe unto you when a l l men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." 53 William A. Gordon, ed., A Correspondence with Henry  Miller (Baton Rouge1 Lousiana State U. Press, 1968), p. 49. ^Lawrence, Phoenix, pp. 255-262. 55 Lawrenee, Phoenix, pp. 255-262. 5^ Norman Lindsay. Creative Effort and the Hidden Symbol (London* Palmer, 1924), p. 67. 5 7 Lindsay, p. 68. 5 8 Lindsay, p. 70. 59 In the Making, p. 220. 6 0 John Rorke, "Patrick White and the C r i t i c s , " Southerly. 20 (1959), 66-74, 6 1 In the Making, p. 220. 6 2 John Thompson, "Australia's White Policy," Australian  Letters. 1 (1958) , 4 5 . "The Lingam and the Yoni" i s , as the t i t l e suggests, one of Hope's frankly erotic poems. 63 Jack Lindsay, Life Rarely Tells (Londoni Bodley Head, 1958), p. 206. 64 Faulkner in the University, eds. F. L. Gwynn and J. L. Blotner (Charlottesville, Va.i U. of Virginia Press, 1959), p. 67. 62 65 Chaman Nahal, D. H. Lawrencei An Eastern View (New Yorki Barnes, 1970), p. 2 1 . ^ James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939; r p t . 3rd ed. Londoni Faber, 1964), p. 3 2 3 . 6 7 White, The Aunt's Story, p. 144. 68 The passage occurs l e s s than halfway through the novel. White makes an i n t e r e s t i n g comment i n t h i s regard1 "Even those who did take any notice Tpf The Aunt's Story] didn't read i t — I went into Angus & Robertson's l i b r a r y , just twenty-five years ago, and noticed that people had read only the f i r s t quarter, they were the only pages which were s o i l e d . " In the Making, p. 220. 6 ? E. K. Brown, Rhythm i n the Novel (Torontoi U. of Toronto Press, 1950). Brown's work i s an extension of Forster's Aspects of the Novel* i n respect to "rhythm." 70 ' Lee T. Lemon uses the term i n e s s e n t i a l l y the same sense that I apply to i t , i n "A P o r t r a i t of the A r t i s t  as a Young Mani Motif as Motivation and Structure," MFS. 12, 4 (Winter 1966-67), 439-450. There he describes a motif as d i f f e r e n t from a conventional symbol i n that i t derives i t s meaning within the text i n which i t i s used, rather than from outside. As Lemon says, "The meaning of a motif . . . i s a function of the context1 and • . • the context i s a function of the motifs that make i t up." CHAPTER THREE D. H. LAWRENCE'S THE PLUMED SERPENTi PROGRESS AND ANATOMY "Does one need gods?" she said. "Why yes. One needs manifestations, i t seems to me."1 The Plumed Serpent has attracted a rather large amount of c r i t i c a l attention, ranging a l l the way to a book-length study. An interesting fact from my point of view is that a large majority of these critiques are neg-ative. Why should c r i t i c s take the trouble to put down a book which has seldom been granted any eminence outside of the honorific reminiscences of some of Lawrence's friends? My argument in Chapter Two above, on "the dynamics of v i s -ion," provides a possible answer*' C r i t i c s probably attack the book because i t disturbs them. One cause of the dis-turbance may well be that the book doesn't f u l f i l l certain preconceptions and expectations brought to i t s reading, as I shall argue shortly. But a more important source of the disturbance, I suggest, is Lawrence's vision as rendered in the book, i t s value system or basis of realism. The majority of this chapter w i l l be devoted to analyzing that vision by looking at i t s technical components. But f i r s t a brief review of published responses. 64 In the f i r s t c h a pter of h i s study of The Plumed  S e r p e n t t 2 L. D. C l a r k g i v e s an accurate and u s e f u l resume of c r i t i c a l r e a c t i o n to the n o v e l , i n c l u d i n g the Mexican authors u s u a l l y ignored i n E n g l i s h language w r i t i n g s . In a l l the m a t e r i a l surveyed, C l a r k f i n d s a huge mass of neg-a t i v e r e a c t i o n but only minor and rudimentary help to an a p p r e c i a t i v e r e a d i n g of the n o v e l . The p a t t e r n i n most p u b l i c a t i o n s s i n c e C l a r k ' s (1964) confirms t h i s t r e n d . Again and a g a i n we read t h a t The Plumed Serpent i s a bad-l y flawed novel3 and then, j u s t once i n a w h i l e , there ap-pears a s h o r t a r t i c l e i l l u s t r a t i n g something i n the t e x t . ^ The p a t t e r n of r e j e c t i o n i s c o n s i s t e n t , through v a r i o u s approaches t The Plumed Serpent i s measured a g a i n s t some y a r d s t i c k of theory, and found wanting. For example, c r i t i c s o b j e c t t h a t the n a r r a t i v e v o i c e keeps i n t r u d i n g i n the s t o r y . ^ I t ' s assumed t h a t n a r r a t o r s must not i n -trude i n n o v e l s , otherwise the f i c t i o n f a i l s . Or a g a i n , we are t o l d t h a t Lawrence p r e s e n t s the c h a r a c t e r Ramon as a s a v i o u r , but t h a t he doesn't have the proper a t t r i b u t e s of saviours.6 And so on. I do not b e l i t t l e the judgment of these c r i t i c s ; indeed I hasten to add t h a t i n most cases the t h e o r e t i c a l y a r d s t i c k s by which the n o v e l i s shown to be flawed are g i v e n l o g i c a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n , and then the c r i t i c s g e n e r a l l y 65 t u r n from the a l l e g e d flaws to matters of p e r i p h e r a l i n -t e r e s t or m e r i t i n the n o v e l . My p o i n t i s t h a t c r i t i c i s m has l a b o r i o u s l y imposed e x t e r n a l standards of judgment on The Plumed Serpent, i n s t e a d of e i t h e r i g n o r i n g i t , or e l s e t r y i n g to accept i t on i t s own terms, as I s h a l l t r y to do. There seems to be a r e l u c t a n c e on the p a r t of c r i t i c a l r e aders ..to accord Lawrence a wide range of donnees i n t h i s n o v e l , and i n s t e a d , c o n s i d e r a b l e energy goes i n t o p r o v i n g t h a t i t i s a f a i l u r e as a r t though i n t e r e s t i n g as travelogue or evidence of the power of Madame B l a v a t s k y , or something e l s e . I cannot b e l i e v e t h a t a l l t h i s neg-a t i v e energy i s focussed on the book simply because i t was w r i t t e n by D. H. Lawrence. Rather, these s i g n s of r e j e c -t i o n e n e r g e t i c a l l y conducted s i g n i f y to me t h a t there i s something i n The Plumed Serpent p r o f o u n d l y d i s t u r b i n g to t r a i n e d and i n t e l l i g e n t r e a d e r s . There's something i n i t , q u i t e a p a r t from t e c h n i c a l " f l a w s , " which d i s t i n c t l y puts us o f f r e a d i n g i t . That element, I b e l i e v e , i s Lawrence's v i s i o n of r e a l i t y here c r e a t e d . Even those c r i t i c s ( a p a r t from Lawrence's gushy f r i e n d s ) who admire the book, do t r y to f i n d some convenient, orthodox framework i n which to l o c a t e i t . T h i s i s j u s t another way of r e f u s i n g to con-f r o n t the n o v e l on i t s own terms. J u s t as Conrad's n o v e l s l o s e t h e i r d i s t u r b i n g power of p e r s o n a l , moral c h a l l e n g e M. 66 for readers who can c a l l them "just some more sea stories," and just as the Bible does for readers who can see i t merely a chapter in the history of myth, so The Plumed  Serpent is more comfortable to live with when placed in the tradition of the dark night of the soul 7 or defined as the working out of Jungian archetypes 0 than i t is when confronted directly, on i t s own terms. To confront The Plumed Serpent—or any novel--on what I c a l l " i t s own terms," means simply si t t i n g down and opening the book at the f i r s t page, and trying to keep oneself as open and responsive as possible to what starts to happen. By the end of the f i r s t chapter, two things have happened: f i r s t l y , Kate's actions and reactions (emotional and physical) to people and events have estab-lished themselves in centre focus of the reader's atten-tion; secondly, the narrator, from a point of view which is sometimes his own, sometimes Kate's, sometimes either or both, and sometimes some other character's, has begun to impose on the reader a very idiosyncratic vocabulary of description. The f i r s t point needs l i t t l e argument. Although in the bull-ring the focus moves from Kate to the surround-ings, when she gets up to leave the story follows her out-side, through the meeting with General Viedma, ultimately 6 ? to the tea-house "to drink her tea and eat strawberry shortcake and try to forget" (p.1 9 ) . Later in the story the reader may well reflect back on this f i r s t chapter and notice that throughout the story Kate's actions take on a characteristic pattern of which the events of Chapter One are the modeli involvement followed by retreat. The second "happening" I've attributed to the reader needs some detailing. The most obvious of the idio-syncracies of vocabulary in this chapter i s the use of bird images. V i l l i e r s i s "the bald eagle of the north br i s t l i n g in every feather" (p . 7 ) » and his eyes show "a primitive, birdlike f i r e " ( p . 7 ) , and then again he glares around "coldly, like a bird that would stab with i t s beak i f i t got the chance, but which would f l y away at the f i r s t real menace" (p.4 ) . Next come: the-; beetles* The bullring is "a trap — a big concrete beetle trap" (p.2) and the i n -truder on V i l l i e r s ' feet is "beetle-like" (pp.7 - 8 ) . To add to this bestiary, the other Mexicans at the fight are Tlike lost mongrels" ( p . 6 ) , "the mongrel men of a mongrel city" (p.1 5 ) . Other descriptive impressions are less ob-trusive than these animal totems, but achieve extremely distorted pictures by selectivity and accumulation. For instance, the toreadors f i r s t appear marching in "a l i t t l e column . . . wearing tight uniforms plastered with silver 68 embroidery" ( p . 8 ) , which i s not p a r t i c u l a r l y unusual, ex-cept perhaps f o r " p l a s t e r e d . " However, by the end of the chapter, the tor e a d o r s have become t o t a l l y c a r i c a t u r e d as g r a c e l e s s , effeminate game-players. We see no t h i n g o f them except such images as t h i s : "With t h e i r r a t h e r f a t p o s t e r i o r s and t h e i r s q u i f f s o f p i g t a i l s and t h e i r c l e a n -shaven f a c e s , they looked l i k e eunuchs, or women i n t i g h t pants" ( p . 8 ) ; or* "The toreador skipped round with a l a d y l i k e s k i p , then t r i p p e d to another p o i n t " ( p . 1 2 ) . T h e i r c l o a k s are red "rags" (p.12) and t h e i r working the b u l l i s "a r a g game" ( p . 1 3 ) . On top of the animal meta-phors and the s t r o n g , s u b j e c t i v e impressionism, the re a d -er begins to n o t i c e a k i n d o f symbolist i n s i s t e n c e , f o r in s t a n c e on people's eyes. We have a l r e a d y seen V i l l i e r s * b i r d l i k e eyes. V i l l i e r s ' i n t r u d e r ' s eyes "took on t h a t b r i g h t , a b s t r a c t look o f pure demotic anger" ( p . ? ) — w h a t -ever t h a t may b e — a n d Owen watches the f i g h t "with a l l h i s eyes" (p.10)—however many t h a t may add up t o — w h i l e the f a t mammas o u t s i d e have "a ple a s e d e x c i t e d l o o k i n t h e i r eyes, almost s e x u a l , and very d i s t a s t e f u l i n o c o n t r a s t to t h e i r s o f t p a s s i v e b o d i e s " (p.15); f i n a l l y , G eneral Viedma's eyes are "dark, quick, with the g l a s s y darkness t h a t £KateJ found s o w e a r y i n g , " but are " t i l t e d up with a c u r i o u s s l a n t , " g i v i n g him "an odd look o f detachment, as i f he looked a t l i f e with r a i s e d brows" ( p . l 6 ) . When he speaks, she 69 notices "his quick eyes glanced at her and at his sur-roundings, like those of a man perpetually suspecting an ambush" (p.l?). Later, Kate recalls "those black eyes, like black jewels, that you couldn't look into, and which were so watchful" (p.18), One significant fact common to a l l these examples I've given of specially charged descriptive language i s that they refer almost exclusively to people. What happens to the reader in Chapter One goes on happening to him throughout the rest of the book. That is to say, 1). Kate's story, and 2). the specially charged description of her human (and to a lesser extent her non-human) ambience, are the essential heart of The Plumed  Serpent. Therefore, these two considerations shape my chapter» the story or progress of a character, and the descriptive anatomy of ther world. These are "the terms" of Lawrence's vision in this novel. i KATE'S PROGRESS Here are six imaginary newspaper headlines for the story of Kate's l i f e , in the time limits of the noveli a) "IRISH REVOLUTIONIST'S WIDOW MARRIES MEXICAN REVOLUTIONIST" b) "ASTUTE WHITE WOMAN TAKEN IN BY MUMBO-JUMBO" 70 c) "LOST SOUL UNDERGOES RITES OF SEPARATION, INITIATION" d) "AGNOSTIC TURNED ON BY AZTEC REVIVALISTS" e) "FOREIGNER SETTLES IN OAXACA" f) "KATE LESLIE FORESAKES COGWHEELS, FINDS MORNING STAR" The f i r s t five of these offer capsule definitions of Kate's experience in what I would c a l l "known terms." They place her experience in a common and predetermined framework, the^jby reducing the novelty factor of the story. The sixth headline uses terms found in, and pecul-iar to, the book, with their specific meanings developed— i f not absolutely c l a r i f i e d — t h e r e . To understand Kate's progress in terms of Lawrence's vision, i t i s necessary to abandon the safety and convenience of known terms, and focus our consciousness on such things as "cogwheels," eyes, birds, "spermlike water," blackness, the "Great Breath," reptiles, cats, "auras," "the evening star," "the morning star," "balance," "Quetzalcoatl." To do so requires very close attention to the text, and a "suspension of disbe-l i e f " which is "willing" in the sense that the reader must really open himself to the connotations and symbolic mean-ings of the terms used, and s t i f l e or postpone any impulse Q he may have to irreverence, contumacy or jeering. 71 The l i s t of terms just given contains, the. i main A motifs by which the various stages of Kate's progress are marked in the texture of the narrative. There are innum-erable other, minor ones. Together, the motifs make up a texture of reality, or we may c a l l i t a world of vision, or a way of being or seeing, or of being conscious. This world is one of Kate's worlds, the one into which her progress takes place. (She has at least one other current world, which is rendered mostly through beautiful but not unusual descriptions of landscape.) I shall examine next the nature of her progress as expressed by these motifs, and later turn to consider the pattern or rhythms of her " o s c i l l a t i o n " 1 0 between one world and another in the course of her progress. The "cogwheel" motif occurs throughout Chapter Six, "The Move Down the Lake." As the t i t l e indicates, this chapter records Kate's move closer to the heart of the Quetzalcoatl revival, and away from V i l l i e r s and a l l that he represents to her. "Cogwheels" signifies precisely the people and values that she rejects along with V i l l i e r s . "Every one of them, like V i l l i e r s , was like a cogwheel in contact with which a l l one's workings were reversed" (p.100). She wants to be alone, "to turn one's back on the cogwheel world" (p.100). Achieving this isolation in her casa down the lake, Kate resolves* "Now I am alone. And now I have 72 o n l y one t h i n g to dot not to get caught up i n the world's cogwheels any more, and not to l o s e my hold on the hidden g r e a t e r t h i n g " ( p . 1 0 6 ) . At t h i s p o i n t , she doesn't r e a l l y know what "the hidden g r e a t e r t h i n g " i s — i n d e e d , she i s " s u r p r i s e d a t h e r s e l f , suddenly u s i n g t h i s language" ( p . 1 0 5 ) . But she does know what she i s l e a v i n g behind* cogwheels. In other words, the a r r i v a l of the l a b e l "cogwheels" i n t o her vocabulary o f i n t r o s p e c t i o n marks a p o i n t of d e f i n i t e p r o g r e s s f o r Kate, a p o i n t a t which she i s able to r o l l i n -to a s i n g l e , symbolic concept V i l l i e r s ' "American note. . . of mechanical dominance" (p" . 8 9 ) , and a l l the "widder-s h i n s " 1 1 c o n t a c t s with people who "reversed her r e a l l i f e flow" ( p . 1 0 0 ) . Kate has gained a p e r s p e c t i v e onto the v a l u e s of white men whose l i v e s have " s t a r t e d to s p i n i n the reversed d i r e c t i o n , w iddershins" ( p . 7 3 ) , and by l a b e l l -i n g them she a c q u i r e s a power to r e j e c t them. Bah. Cog-wheels I The symbol epitomizes not only the world of mechanical technology, but, more i n t e r e s t i n g l y , those r e -l a t i o n s h i p s with people which r e v e r s e one's own d i r e c t i o n of p e r s o n a l growth, j u s t as cogwheels mesh to r e v e r s e one another's m o t i o n — w i t h e r s h i n s r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n f a c t . A t t h i s stage of growth, Kate simply r e j e c t s a l l r e l a t i o n -s h i p s , even ( i n the l a s t paragraph of the chapter) r a t h e r 73 p e t u l a n t l y b r e a k i n g up the " f a c e to face symmetry" of two s e t t e e s which Juana has p l a c e d together i n response to her "one s o c i a l i n s t i n c t more dreary than a l l other s o c i a l i n s t i n c t s i n the world . . . the Mexican" (p.107). Much l a t e r , when Kate has had time f o r a l o t of growing i n her new l i f e , she no longer needs to use her b l a n k e t l a b e l of r e j e c t i o n (cogwheels), but i n s t e a d can d i s c u s s with Ramon her need f o r a man, making d i s t i n c t i o n between r e l a t i o n s h i p s of domineering entanglement and r e l a t i o n s h i p s of balance (pp.247-8). Kate r e j e c t s cogwheels and f i n d s the morning s t a r . The morning s t a r i s the most complex, most a l l o -t r o p i c and probably the most important of the m o t i f s i n the n o v e l . I t c o n t a i n s the essence of p o s i t i v e v a l u e i n Lawrence's v i s i o n . To experience "the Morning S t a r " might be d e s c r i b e d as the h i g h e s t l e s s o n or g i f t t h a t The Plumed  Serpent has to o f f e r . Kate's p r o g r e s s i s a steady, ram-i f i e d i n d u c t i o n i n t o consciousness of the s t a r , b e g i n n i n g i n Chapter Three and c o n t i n u i n g through a t l e a s t a hun-dred moments of s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e i n the u n f o l d i n g s t o r y . By the end of the book, the s t a r and i t s many meanings have become as important to her,,as c e n t r a l to her l i f e , as the c r o s s might do f o r a c o n v e r t to C h r i s t i a n i t y . 7 4 The s t a r f i r s t appears i n the newspaper account of the Q u e t z a l c o a t l r e v i v a l , as p a r t of the emblematic t r a p p i n g s o f the new c u l t . The man who encountered the god i n the lake was g i v e n "a new hat with s t a r embroidery," and a b l a n k e t with " f l o w e r s l i k e s t a r s a t the c e n t r e " ( p . 5 2 ) . Rehearsing i n her mind her s l i g h t knowledge of the god Q u e t z a l c o a t l , Kate remembers "the eyes t h a t see and are unseen, l i k e the s t a r s by day. The eyes t h a t watch be-hind the wind, as the s t a r s beyond the blue of day" ( p . 5 3 ) » Two c h a p t e r s l a t e r , when she has her f i r s t e x c i t i n g en-counter with a naked man of Q u e t z a l c o a t l , the s t a r comes i n t o her consciousness along with the theme of balance which had been i n her mind at the time she read the news-paper s t o r y . "'We w i l l wait t i l l the Morning S t a r r i s e s ' " ( p . 8 7 ) , the naked man t e l l s her, and when she asks what th a t means, he r e p l i e s e n i g m a t i c a l l y , " ' I t i s a name.'" But the s t a r p r o v i d e s a focus f o r t h e i r m y s t i c a l conversa-t i o n ! He watched Kate's face with t h a t gleaming, i n t e n s e s e m i - a b s t r a c t i o n , a gleam t h a t hung unwavering i n h i s b l a c k eyes, and which suddenly reminded Kate of the morning s t a r , or the evening s t a r , hanging p e r f e c t be-tween n i g h t and the sun. "You have the morning s t a r i n your eyes," she s a i d to the man. He f l a s h e d her a smile of e x t r a o r d i n a r y beauty. "The S e n o r i t a understands," he s a i d . (p.8 8 ) 75 In subsequent chapters, the morning star figures promi-nently in the rituals and "Hymns," as a central symbol of the Quetzalcoatl revival. The star i s revealed as both a sign of the god—e.g. "I am Quetzalcoatl, lord of both ways, star between day and the dark" (p.225)—and as a symbol of the ground of relationship between people, un-der the new religion. Thus, for instance, Ramon t e l l s Kate and Cipriano in their marriage ceremony* "This i s the symbol of Quetzalcoatl the Morning Star. Remember the marriage is the meeting-ground, and the meeting-ground is the star. If there be no star, no meeting-ground, no true coming together of man with the woman, into a whole-ness, there i s no marriage" (p.329). Also, in the chap-ter called "Huitzilopochtli"s Night," the execution of the traitors i s carried out under the justification that "while they lived, the Morning Star could not be seen" (p.380), which is to say that the traitors muddied the ground of relationship, bringing division among the people. Kate hears and reads and sometimes participates in a l l this symbolic and r i t u a l activity, meanwhile struggling to deal with her revulsions from Mexico and from Quet-zalcoatl, but for a long time she does not think for her-self in terms of the star. She listens to Ramon preaching about the star, both as a personal goal and as an ideal 76 ground of relationship between the sexes (e.g. in his ser-mon beginning "I am the Son of the Morning Star . . . " p.337 )» but while never outrightly rejecting Ramon, she does not yet use his language. She isn't yet converted, in fact she is sometimes a l i t t l e afraid of what she senses is happening to the new converts. Kate's repugnance at the new religion comes to a c r i s i s , rendered by the star motif. She sits beside the dying Carlota, reading one of the tracts that have been distributed, an invocation to Quetzalcoatli Put sleep as black as beauty in the secret of my belly. Put s t a r - o i l over me. Call me a man. (p.3*+8) While reading this she hears a woman whose voice "clear almost as a star i t s e l f , went up the road at the versei •Blue daylight sinks in my hair. / The star comes out be-tween the two / Wonders . . .'" and next we read» "Kate was frightened. She laid her hand on Cipriano's knee, lost." Holding his hand, she hears once more the line praying for sleep and s t a r - o i l . Then comes the s i g n i f i -cant sentence! "She could almost feel her soul appealing to Cipriano.for this sacrament." A page later, yearning for Cipriano, she hears again the two lines, "Put sleep as  black as beauty in the secret of mv belly. / Put s t a r - o i l  over me." This is immediately followed by a dissolution 77 of "the hardness of s e l f - w i l l " in her and an opening of herself to Cipriano, which he senses in a very powerful, inner and mysterious way. Clearly, what has happened is that Kate has f i n a l l y submitted to the religion of the star. At the end of the chapter she has a reversion to the old self of London and Paris and New York and her maiden days as Kate Forrester (p.369) • But i t is only a brief f a l l i n g off. For the executions suddenly occur, and they shock her back into the struggle to define or come to believe in a satisfactory relationship with Cipriano. Now, for the f i r s t time in the novel, Kate's vocabulary i s flooded with star imagery. In the beginning of the "Malintzi" chapter, she wrestles with the problem of how to maintain her "own very souM and star-self" (p.386) in the face of Cipriano's apparent w i l l and destruc-tive dominance. Must she lose her identity, must he lose his, she asks herself,'in order for the two of them to come together in the morning star, a third thing (pp.386-7)? Cipriano's arrival in the flesh overwhelms her, and she a-gain relinquishes her old "European" concern about indiv-iduality, and submits to the marriage ceremony with him. Together, with separate candles explicitly symbolic of their separate lives, they light their lamp. Then they blow out the candles, and he t e l l s her that the lamp is 78 "our Morning Star" (p.3 9 0 ) . Kate is tremendously moved by the ceremony, and can hardly look at "that bud of light which he said meant their united lives, without a catch at her heart" (p. 3 9 1 ) . But there'.is no going back. She feels virginal again, and is f i l l e d with wonder and joy as the chapter ends. In the last three chapters of the novel, the morning star appears only perfunctorily. The significance of this omission i s clear enoughi Kate has come as close as she is going to get to the heart of Quet-zalcoatl. From here on out her story i s one of deciding whether or not to stay permanently with what she has found. What she has found, a way of being in relation-ship, is symbolized by the motif of the star, and the pro-gress of her searching and discovering i s marked, as I've tried to show, by recurrences of the motif. As a symbol, the term "morning star" contains many meanings which are exp l i c i t l y emphasized in the story, and which are worth discussing because they contribute to our understanding of the "way of being in relationship" which Kate has found. Other meanings (such as the Roman mythological significance of Venus) are not brought out in the text, and I therefore avoid going out of the way to import those significances to a reading of The Plumed Serpent. 79 F i r s t of the explicit meanings is the concept of balance. The term "balance" i t s e l f , like "widder-shins" mentioned already, is an important part of Kate's vocabulary even before she moves to the lake. Just as she rejects V i l l i e r s and Western, technological c i v i l i z a -tion because of the cogwheel relationships that drive her withershins, so she rejects the social reformist zeal of the Mexican painters whose work she sees, because they have an unbalancing hatred in them. "To anyone with the spark of human balance, the things are a misdemeanour" (p.4 7 ) . To Garcia she insists* "One must keep a certain balance," but he retorts "brightly, his plump'.-.cheeks flushing. 'In Mexico you can't keep a balance, because things are so bad. In other countries, yes, perhaps you can remain balanced, because things are not so bad as they are here. But here they are so very bad, you can't be human. You have to be Mexican'" (p.4 9 ) . Kate takes this last point very seriously and spends time here and throughout the novel, wondering whether there i s something inherent in Mexico which keeps the people perpetually frustrated. Pessimistically, she rejects everything around hen The thing called "Life" i s just a mistake we have made in our minds. Why persist in the mistake any further. Owen was the mistake i t s e l f 1 so was V i l -l i e r s ; so was that Mexico c i t y . (p.55) 80 And so she determines to retreat from i t a l l , and live a-lone somewhere. However, When Kate meets the naked man of Quetzalcoatl in the lake, new hope is born in her, ac-companied by a series of images of balance, specifically associated with the morning star and the evening start And for the f i r s t time Kate f e l t she had met the mystery of the natives, the strange and mysterious gentleness between a scylla and a charybdis of violence; the small poised, perfect body of the bird that waves wings of thunder and wings of f i r e and night in i t s f l i g h t . But central between the flash of day and the black of night, between the flash of lightning and the break of thunder, the s t i l l , soft body of the bird poised and soaring, for ever. The mystery of the evening-star b r i l l i a n t in silence and distance between the downward surging plunge of the sun and the vast, hollow seething of inpouring night. The magnificence of the watchful morning-star, that watches between the night and the day, the gleaming clue to the two oppo-sites. (pp.89-90) This fl i g h t of rhetoric, beginning with the "mystery of the natives," comes back down to the boatmani Kate feels "this kind of f r a i l , pure sympathy" with him. The syntax and logic are vague here, but the statement i s nonethe-less illuminating! angered at the lack of balance in the paintings, Kate rejects Mexico and seeks isolation, but quickly finds a new ground of relationship ( " f r a i l , pure sympathy") associated in her mind with an image of a poised bird, and of stars poised between night and day. 81 Kate's predeliction for "balance" makes the morning star of Quetzalcoatl specially attractive to her, because i t is the star "between the two / Wonders" (p.3 4 8 ) . She accepts Quetzalcoatl, in part, because the religion is based upon this concept of balance in the individual and in relationships, which is what Kate herself has been seek-ing. The last three chapters of the book contain the record of her worrying as to whether Cipriano w i l l domi-nate her, or whether he w i l l truly accept the morning star as she has done, and thus allow the two of them to live in a relationship of balanced independence. "morning star" -explicitly brought out in the text i s the concept of rebirth. I mean rebirth not as a single e-vent, but as a state of mind, a li v i n g sense of continual renewal. In the "Lords of the Day and Night" chapter, Ramon preaches a chanted sermon in which he asserts the primacy of "Now" as opposed to "Before" and "After." In the hymn that follows, the morning star becomes the Dawn Star, which, like the Christian Holy Ghost, i s "always here" (p.1 7 4 ) . Thus we see that the "way of being in relationship" symbolized by the morning star includes the concept of an everlasting, l i v i n g Now, which initiates in the religion perceive (unlike "the multitudes" £p«1757) The second special significance of the term 82 and thus become "the Lords of the Way." In other words, the way of l i f e which the star symbolizes is not something that Kate achieves once for a l l , but something to which she commits herself and which she endlessly renews, or finds renewal from. This i s a major reason why the end-ing of the novel is rather inconclusive» It isn't that Kate has "got her man," or he her, but that she w i l l stay with him in the delicate balance of a relationship which rests on a continuing present, not the achievements of the past or the plans for the future. These two concepts, of balance and perpetual renewal in oneself and in relationships, don't exhaust the symbolic meaning of the star, though they are central to i t . Other meanings are brought out in many places, es-pecially in "The Opening of the Church" (Chapter Twenty-one), which is where Kate yearns for the star- o i l to be poured over her. In the hymns of this chapter, the star takes on the power of a religious sacrament, equivalent to the Christian sacramental wine and bread and o i l which the dying Carlota vainly calls for. The star i s a power shining in the lives of the converts and keeping them from turning into husks, or "rat-gnawed pomegranates hanging hollow on the Tree of Life" (p.338). Just as the Christ-ian sacraments put worshippers-, in touch with the power 83 of divine grace, so the star-power of Quetzalcoatl gives the converts a sense of integration with a l l l i f e . The morning star, for instance, shines at "a gate to the in-nermost place / Where the Breath and the Fountains com-mingle, / Where the dead are l i v i n g and the l i v i n g are dead . . . " (p.383)» Likewise, Ramon preaches* "I t e l l you, you are not men alone./ The star of the beyond is within you . . . " (p.338). This power of the star to give a person a sense of integration becomes very impor-tant to Kate in the last chapters. For thirty pages, as she works out her decision about staying, she yearns for both an integration of her own self components, and a communion with others. She realizes that Quetzalcoatl offers both things* the f i r s t in the influence Ramon has on her, as the spritual leader, and the second through Cipriano. Ramon, she finds, "had that starry power for bringing together the two great human impulses to a point of fusion" (p.4l7), namely the physical and the s p i r i t u a l . Meanwhile, Cipriano has the particular effect on her of making her feel at peace within a relationship—a far cry from her agitated rejection of people at the begin-ning of the book. Watching Cipriano swimming in the lake, Kate loses her European, cerebral sense of alienation* "She let her effort at knowing sl i p away from her once 84 more, and remained without effort, within the communion" (p.422). When she makes her decision to stay, she feels she is right to reject her other l i f e because there is "another kind of vastness here" (p.438). Having looked a l i t t l e at the cogwheel and star motifs, I've only just begun to work my way through the l i s t of major motifs given, several pages back. To pro-ceed exhaustively would be tedious. My main point here is to exemplify a method in which the reader can open him-self to the terms of the book, learning their significance cumulatively as he goes along, and understanding through the motifs the nature of the progress in Kate's conscious-ness. Nevertheless, before passing on to examine the pattern of her movements, I shall look at one more motif used very extensively in this book—eyes. Apart from i t s inherent significance in the text of The Plumed Serpent, this symbol has two other points of interest for me. First, i t relates obviously to the term "vision" which i s central to my thesis, and second, the same motif i s used exten-sively in another novel I shall be examining, Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Open any page of The Plumed Serpent, and the odds are good that there'll be a description of somebody's eyes. Often these descriptions are not unusual enough 85 to draw attention to themselves ("his eyes shone as he But i t doesn't take long reading before any reader can feel that sometimes the descriptions of eyes are very heavily charged, and that overall the references to eyes seem to f a l l into some kind of emblematic divisions (for instance, a l l the nasty cogwheel people seem to have eyes some other colour than black). In time the reader comes to realize that the narrative manipulation of the eyes motif t e l l s a lot about what's happening to Kate. Eyes are usually the f i r s t things—sometimes the only things— she notices about people she meets. At times she becomes quite obsessed with thinking about the "black, centreless eyes" of Indians and other Mexicans, and her growth in re-lationship with Mexico and Quetzalcoatl is marked by the nature and course of these thoughts. Unlike the "star" vocabulary, which Kate adopts only after her conversion to Quetzalcoatl, the motif of eyes is a consistent and per-sonal idiom of her perception through the whole story, be-fore and after her conversion. Thus for instance, when she is deciding near the end to give up Europe and stay with the Quetzalcoatl people, she rationalizes her decision to,herself by saying that "the power of the world, which she had known u n t i l now only in the eyes of blue-eyed etc.). 86 men . . . was now fading in the blue eyes, and dawning in the black" (p.3 9 8 ) . Kate's awareness of the mysterious power in the Quetzalcoatl religion begins with her awareness of Cipriano's eyes, in the f i r s t chapter, even though she knows nothing of the revival at this point, nor of Cip-riano's connection with i t . I quoted the instance ear-l i e r — h e r recollection of Cipriano's "black eyes, like black jewels" (p.18). Excited by this vision of Cip-riano, after her jaded relationships with Owen and V i l -l i e r s whom she has l e f t behind in the "nauseous stench" (p.13) of the bull-ring, Kate has a premonition of her later conversion, "that Mexico lay in her destiny almost as a doom" (p.18). So the theme of the book is actually implicit in the f i r s t chapter, and the eye motif as used in that chapter conveys in a simple way the polarities of human values which the theme concerns. Against Cipriano's dark eyes, with their jewel-like gleam, the narrator de-velops the constrasting eyes of V i l l i e r s , which are cold and birdlike, and have a "bright rabstract look" (p.7) a-bout them; Owen too has unsatisfactory eyes, utterly un-selective in their vision (p.14), so long as he feels he is "seeing LIFE" including, Kate suggests, "somebody else's diarrhoea" (p.14). In the next two chapters, as Kate 87 becomes more and more r e p e l l e d by the eyes o f the white people she meets, and more and more a t t r a c t e d to the q u a l -i t y of c o n c e n t r a t i o n i n C i p r i a n o ' s (e.g. p.37» where C i p -r i a n o watches the bad-mannered white judge "with b l a c k , s n a k e - l i k e e y e s " ) , she n e v e r t h e l e s s i s confused by an oppressive q u a l i t y i n the eyes of most of the Mexicans a-round her. T h e i r b l a c k , c e n t r e l e s s eyes t r o u b l e her throughout most of the book. In the s i x t e e n t h chapter she comments d i r e c t l y i "You see Mexico i s r e a l l y a b i t h o r r i b l e to me. And the b l a c k eyes of the people r e a l l y make my h e a r t c o n t r a c t , and my f l e s h s h r i n k . There's a b i t of h o r r o r i n i t . And I don't want h o r r o r i n my s o u l " (p.232). But along with the h o r r o r , the eyes h o l d f o r her a l s o a f a s c i n a t i o n ; the eye m o t i f throughout renders Kate's wavering ambivalence to Mexico. Her f a s c i n a t i o n with C i p -r i a n o ' s " b l a c k , b i g , g l i t t e r i n g eyes," i s t i n g e d w i t h f e a r " (p.62). And although she i s o f t e n a t t r a c t e d to the peasants, " l a r g e - l i m b e d , s i l e n t , handsome men l o o k i n g up with t h e i r b l a c k c e n t r e l e s s eyes, speaking so s o f t l y " (p.45), a t other times they dismay h e n "[MexicoJ always makes my h e a r t s i n k . L i k e the eyes of the men i n the big: h a t s — I c a l l them peons. T h e i r eyes have no middle to them. Those b i g handsome men, under t h e i r b i g hats, they a r e n ' t r e a l l y t h e r e . They have no c e n t r e , no r e a l I . T h e i r middle i s a 88 raging black hole, like the middle of a maelstrom" (p.35)» Kate's progress, as delineated by the eye motif, is quite subtle—except that i t ' s easy to see how she re-jects Europe in rejecting V i l l i e r s ' and Owen's kinds of vision, as I've shown above. But rejection is only the f i r s t stage of her progress. The body of the story in-volves her slowly coming to terms with Mexico and Quet-zalcoatl, eventually arriving at a point of acceptance, though not complete transformation. Kate never does f i -nally embrace Mexico; to do so would quite possibly be con-trary to the Quetzalcoatl way of being, as I showed in discussing "balance." The eye motif shows how her am-bivalence remains to the end. For example, she finds her mozo both attractive ("his black eyes shining, and a timid sort of smile on his face") and on the same page re-pellent, with "a sharp watchful look in the corner of his eye" (p.441). Yet she has progressed, for the thing she fears at the end i s different from what she feared ear-l i e r . She loses her earlier fear of dark centrelessness, and comes to fear domination—the same thing that she hates, in retrospect, in her husband Joachim. Kate loses her fear of "dark centrelessness" in the important "Marriage by Quetzalcoatl" chapter, by suddenly realizing what the power in Cipriano actually i s , 89 the power symbolized by his dark eyesi The mystery of the primeval world ! She could feel i t now in a l l i t s shadowy, rfurious magnificence. She knew now what was the black glinting look in Cipriano*s eyes. She could understand marrying him, now. In the shadowy world where men were visionless, and winds of fury rose up from the earth, Cip-riano was s t i l l a power. Once you entered his mystery the scale of a l l things changed, and he became a liv i n g male power, undefined, and unconfined. The smallness, the limita-tions ceased to exist. In his black, glin t -ing eyes the power was limitless. (p.3°7) In other words, the power in Cipriano, unlike the void she found earlier in the dark, centreless eyes of the peons, is a non-cerebral and overwhelming sense of identity. Be-neath this "darkness that was himself and nothing but him-self," Kate swoons prone, "perfect"in her,-proneness" (p.308). Having abandoned the world of V i l l i e r s by physically moving away to her casa. she at f i r s t s t i l l retained in herself the very thing that V i l l i e r s ' eyes symbolized for her—a cold, European abstraction; she was s t i l l hostile to the non-cerebral, un-analytic mode of l i f e which the dark, centreless eyes of the Mexicans symbolized for her. But now, she has lost that fear and is able to submit to the blind, intuitive v i t a l i t y of Cipriano's world. "Ah, what an abandon, what an abandon, what an abandon!—of so many things she wanted to abandon" (p.308). Through Cipriano she finds her way "back to the twilight of the ancient Pan 9 0 world, where the soul'. of'- woman was dumb, to be forever unspoken" (p.3 0 9 ) . Not surprisingly, the eye motif, by which Kate symbolically arrives at her consciousness of Cipriano's power—"his black, glinting eyes"—is another name for the symbol of Quetzalcoatl' "the Quetzalcoatl symbol, called the Eye" (p.219 et passim). The development just shown—Kate's eventual ac-ceptance of the dark, centrelessness in Mexico—is actual-ly foreshadowed in capsule form as early as the seventh chapter. Just after she dismisses V i l l i e r s and makes her resolution "not to get caught up in the world's cogwheels any more" ( p . 1 0 6 ) , Kate turns to her Mexican criada. thinking' "There was nothing to do but go ahead and trust the dark-faced, centreless woman." Her progress in the story is a journey into darkness, learning to trust the power she finds there. But there is s t i l l , at the end, something in the eyes of her Mexican friends that Kate fears. It is no longer the dark centrelessness, but the strength of domineering w i l l . At the very end, having wrestled with her fear of totally losing her individuality, having seen even the eyes of the mozo wanting her to "acquiesce," Kate comes to Cipriano humbly, ready to a degree to be limited by him, but s t i l l afraid. "He was standing erect 91 and alert, like a l i t t l e fighting male, and his eyes glowed black and uncannily as he met her wet, limpid glance. Yes, she was a bit afraid of him too, with his inhuman black eyes" (p.4 4 3 ) . Reading the texture of the prose in the manner I have illustrated, following out the progress of Kate's story through meanings cumulatively established by the motifs, the reader begins to experience the vision of-fered in the novel, in i t s own terms. Kate moves from cogwheels to the morning star, and other motifs (such as that of eyes) develop more fu l l y the ramifications of this progress. I pass on to Lawrence's second major tool of expression in this novel, the rhythms of narrative progression. In some ways, the plot of The Plumed Serpent is quite conventional and ordinary. There i s a more or less unified narrative point of view, and a straight, chronological time scheme. This novel i s no Absalom, Ab- alom.' or As I Lav Dying, with shifts of viewpoint and chronology occurring with startling suddenness. What is distinctive about The Plumed Serpent however—though i t ' s a technique we find in much of Lawrence—is the pattern of rhythmic cycles by which Kate and the sympathetic reader are inducted more and more ful l y into the experience 92 of morning-star consciousness. This i s the pattern of "oscillations," as Hough call s them, which Kate makes between the known world and the world of new vision into which she is progressing. She i s constantly venturing into the unknown, then retreating to the privacy of her-self in her known world, to take stock and catch her breath. As a narrative tool, the pattern is very ef-fective* i t allows the reader (in identification with Kate) to go through steps of acquaintanceship with the unfamiliar world of Lawrence's vision, the world of Quet-zalcoatl, and i t creates tension, which i s the essence of interesting story. Kate's story keeps bringing the reader back to flowers and beautiful landscapes and other likeable, ordinary things, before plunging him once more into the mumbo-jumbo of Quetzalcoatl which undoubtedly the reader finds strange and probably unpleasant at f i r s t . 1 2 That Kate herself needs this slow rhythm of in-duction into the mysteries of the revival i s nowhere clearer than in those passages near the end of the book where she thinks directly about the changes she i s going through * Kate was glad to get back to her own house, and to be more or less alone. She f e l t a great change was being worked in her, and i f i t worked too violently, she would die. It was the end of something, and the 93 beginning of something* far, far inside hen in her soul and womb. The men, Ramon and Cipriano, caused the change, and Mexico. Because the time had come.—Nevertheless i f what was happening happened too rapid-ly, or violently, she f e l t she would die. So, from time to time, she had to with-draw from contact, to be alone. She would s i t alone for hours on the shore, under a green willow tree . . . (p.4l2) Not that she is running away from Quetzalcoatl at this point—though she does s t i l l speak of going to Europe "for a time" (p.42?). She simply needs time to grow ac-customed to the changes. She feels i t ' s more than simply a spiritual change that's happening, " i t was her body, and the constitution of her very blood • • • the terrible ka-tabolism and metabolism in her blood, changing her . . . and i f i t went too fast, she would die" (p.419). "The change, Kate f e l t , must not come on her too soon and too suddenly, or i t would rupture her, and she would die" (p.4l4). What's true for Kate is also true for the read-er who gets deeply involved in the story. We can see ev-idence of reader-resistance to the world of Quetzalcoatl in those critiques which dwell on the beauties of land-scape, the known world, and downplay the Quetzalcoatl component of the novel. For instance* "The primitivism is ridiculous because i t i s ersatz. . . . On the other hand i t must be acknowledged freely that the book contains 9 4 many v i r t u e s . . . . As a p o e t i c a l documentary, The Plumed Serpent i s almost as good as anything he ever wrote, . . . the beauty and the f r e s h n e s s of the country 13 a f t e r the r a i n s , the tenderness-;of the t r o p i c a l dawn," J ors "The i d e o l o g y of The Plumed Serpent i s repugnant to many who n e v e r t h e l e s s admire the prose-poetry of the book Kate's need to r e t r e a t i n t o the p r i v a c y of her own world i s e s t a b l i s h e d e a r l y on, when the t h i n g s she i s r e t r e a t i n g from are not even connected with Q u e t z a l c o a t l . I've r e f e r r e d a l r e a d y to the f a c t t h a t i n the f i r s t chap-t e r she r e t i r e s from the b u l l - f i g h t i n dismay a t the cow-a r d i c e and the s m e l l t h a t i t seems to her to c o n s i s t i n (pp. 1 3 ,14). She goes to a tea-house to " t r y to f o r g e t " ( p . 1 9 ) , and a p p a r e n t l y does f o r g e t , f o r she never again t h i n k s about b u l l f i g h t i n g i n the s t o r y . Again, i n Chapte Two, she t r i e s to escape from the a r t i f i c i a l , t e a - p a r t y t a l k , f e e l i n g t h a t the t a b l e i s " l i k e a s t e e l d i s c to which they were a l l , as v i c t i m s , magnetized and bound," and a s k i n g d e s p e r a t e l y , "Where is. your garden, Mrs. Mor-r i s ? " ( p . 3 9 ) , She agrees with Owen th a t the p a r t y was " g h a s t l y " ( p . 4 3 ) , and never a g a i n r e t u r n s to t h a t s o r t of company. Instead, i n the next chapter, she climbs alone onto the f l a t r o o f of the h o t e l , to contemplate the d i -r e c t i o n of her l i f e a t t h i s " d i v i d i n g line.'.'-^her f o r t i e t h 95 birthday (p .43). She descends to f u l f i l a promise to view the Ribera frescoes, and comes home again, after :;tea with Garcia, in retreat from l i f e i "She wanted to get out, disentangle herself again" (p.55)« Instead, she keeps an appointment to have dinner at Ramon's, Now Kate's outer world changes, as she begins to get a l i t t l e involved with the ideology and personal-i t i e s of the Quetzalcoatl revival. She is moved by the glimpses she has of this unfamiliar world« She f e l t , for the f i r s t time in her l i f e , a pang almost like fear, of men who were passing beyond what she knew, beyond her depth, (p.62) This i s her f i r s t conscious recognition of the unknown in the world of Quetzalcoatl, and i t is immediately f o l -lowed by a retreat reactionj In "a strangled voice" (p.6 7 ) , she announces that she wants to go and look at the flowers, and off she dashes to the garden. Henceforth the pattern of involvement-retreat grows ever stronger; I mean that Kate gets more deeply involved, and her retreats are more substantial than a quick dash out of doors. The involvement consists in physically moving to live close to the centre of the revival, hearing and participating in the ritual s , having long conversations with Ramon, Cipriano, Teresa—not to mention fighting for her l i f e against 96 bandits, paying v i s i t s to the headquarters of the revival at Jamiltepec, watching over the dying Carlota, getting married in two separate ceremonies, and tentatively adopt-ing the role of the goddess Malintzi. 1^ And a l l the while that her involvement deepens in these ways, so her re-treats become longer and more necessary to her. They consist in periods of domesticity, negotiations over prices and meals, a good deal of detached spectatorship of the peasant lives around her, and many delightful hours of heightened awareness of landscape and flowers and birds, sitting alone in the casa. or down beside the lake. The rhythmic or "oscillating" pattern functions then, to give Kate and the reader time to grow into the new way of seeing and being. It also does a lot to win the reader's credence, even his sympathy for Kate. In both these functions, the pattern works very strongly, as I ' l l try to show by detailed example* The f i r s t point is easily seen; the clearest example i s in the eighth and ninth chapters. Here Kate has just come through her f i r s t in-depth experience of the Quetzalcoatl r i t u a l (in Chapter Seven). After the dancing in the Plaza, the drumming, the hymns, the sermon, and a very strange finger contact with one of the men of Quet-zalcoatl, she has hurried home and sunk into sleep (p.128). 97 Now, in Chapter Eight, bandits are abroad, so she can s i t shut up at home, thinking about what's been happening, re-membering her f i r s t husband, listening to the storm outside and the snores of Ezequiel, her guard. Chapter Nine, the fear of bandits gone, shows her sitting alone "rocking on her verandah, pretending to sew" (p . 1 3 8 ) , but actually-just watching the l i f e of the peasants around her. She thinks no more of Quetzalcoatl. Her involvement was heavy, and now for two chapters she just forgets about i t a l l . At the end of this time, she i s rested, amused by the petty lives of her household, and ready to come out of retreat and get involved once more with the fearful mysteries of the revival. So she v i s i t s Ramon and Carlota (Chapter Ten), sees the conflict between them, inspects the Quetzalcoatl headquarters, listens to a lot of the liturgy, converses and argues, and f i n a l l y , after three more chapters, re-treats home again to t o r t i l l a s and "to s i t and rock on her terrace" in the sun, surrounded by greenery and red flowers, palm trees and oranges (p.2 1 0 ) . Thus, between the excite-ment and fear of the Plaza (Chapter Seven), and the mys-terious aura and energies at Jamiltepec (Chapters Ten etc.), the eighth and ninth chapters provide time and diversion for Kate and the reader to take stock. Then, after the v i s i t to Jamiltepec Kate returns to her rocking chair 98 (Chapter Fourteen), and the pattern continues i t s cycles. The cycle just traced takes something over a hundred pages, so the reader gets a few hours to go through this " o s c i l -lation." The pattern also helps to establish c r e d i b i l i t y . The retreats are easy to accept as donnees of the story, simply because they are so natural and lovely—Kate enjoy-ing the Mexican landscape. They establish the reader'-s confidence that she hasn't turned into a fanatical kook. After s i t t i n g with her under a willow tree on the beach, watching the women wash clothes and enjoying the bright colours in the sunshine (p.212), we find i t a l i t t l e easier to take something like her listening to Julio reading a-loud about Quetzalcoatl travelling "the longest journey. Beyond the blue outer wall of heaven, beyond the bright place of the Sun, across the plains of darkness where the stars spread out like trees, like trees and bushes, far away to the heart of a l l the worlds, low down like the Morning Star" (p.222). Also, there's more chance that we w i l l empathize with a Kate who silently prays, "Put sleep  as black as beauty in the secret of mv belly, / Put star- o i l over me" (p.3^8), when we have already willingly i -dentified with her in her down-to-earth resistance to a l l the liturgy of the culti 99 "I, a goddess in the Mexican pantheon?" cried Kate, with a burst of startled laughter. "I don't feel like a goddess in a Mex-ican pantheon." ( p . 2 3 1 ) The more readily can we accept Kate's conversion, because we have lived with her through cycles of retreat to a more familiar worlds It a l l oppressed her and made her afraid. She lay forming plans to escape. She must escape. She would hurriedly pack her trunks and disappear . . . to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Suddenly escape, and flee away to a white man's country, where she could once more breathe freely. How good i t would be!—Yes, this was what she would do. ( p . 2 3 4 ) Obviously what I'm saying isn't true for a l l readers. The majority of published critiques, as I've said, disparage the Quetzalcoatl side of the book, and praise the retreats into travelogue and landscape—indeed, Knopf f i r s t repub-lished the book not as j'fiction, but as belles lettres. Nevertheless, while i t may not be enough to overcome the repugnance of some readers, for others, the rhythmic o s c i l -lations which Kate makes from one world to the other tend to increase our sense of her as a person like ourselves, whose perception of landscape is delightful and therefore whose religious experiences are perhaps worth,at least a second look, as she progresses in i t deeper and deeper. It's worth remarking^ f i n a l l y , that Kate views her own progress into the heart of Quetzalcoatl in terms 100 quite consistent with her love of the natural landscape. She sees herself frequently as an unfolding flower. E.g. ". . . the unfolding flower of her own soul" (p.54 et  passim). The language of Ramon and his followers is sim-i l a r l y laced with f l o r a l imagery. For instance, in one of the Hymns, Quetzalcoatl says "I am unfolded on the stem of time like a flower, I am in the midst of the flower of my manhood" ( p . 2 2 3 ) . Ezequiel t e l l s Kate that Quetzalcoatl is "a god in the flower of l i f e , and finely built" ( p . 2 2 2 ) . Such f l o r a l images link up with the many descriptions of actual flowers to suggest the naturalness of being which Ramon is trying to bring about through the revival, and which Kate, for one, begins to experience in precisely that way. Her progress i s a blooming of selfhood. i i AN ANATOMY OF KATE'S UNIVERSE Kate's progress takes place in a social context. The people around her make up an anatomy of the body of good and bad values in which she is trying to emerge into a new guise of self. I've defined her progress as a re-jection of cogwheels and an acceptance of the morning star; another way of saying the same thing i s that she accepts one set of people as she rejects another. The people 101 embody the concepts which the motifs convey. Kate's inter-action with the people who make up her universe helps her to understand at the concrete level of day-to-day drama, the choices that are available to her. And the reader's cumulative acquaintanceship with the several focal char-acters around Kate provides him with another way of un-derstanding the nature of her growth, and of experiencing the positive and negative values of Lawrence's vision in the novel. I shall examine several of the main characters. Fir s t , there are the gods. Source-hunting c r i t i c s who have searched out the literary origins of Quetzalcoatl and Huitzilopochtli, Malintzi and Itzpapalotl, prevent themselves from undistorted encounter with the terms of the book.1^ To import meaning to The Plumed Serpent in this way, I believe, i s to miss the main significance of gods in the book. For they are not gods which have in-dependent existence, but products of Ramon's mind (and to a lesser extent of Cipriano's). Their identities keep growing, as Ramon thinks out his philosophy further and further and writes i t down in the hymns. Ramon himself gives the clue to a proper understanding of the gods, in conversation with Katei But you know, Senora, Quetzalcoatl i s to me only the symbol of the best a man may be, in the next days. The universe i s a nest of dragons, with a perfectly unfathomable 102 life-mystery at the centre of i t . If I c a l l the mystery the Morning Star, surely i t doesn't matter! A man's blood can't beat in the abstract. And man is a crea-ture who wins his own creation inch by inch. (p.270) From this we see that what's important about the gods is their symbolization of the stages of a "won creation," namely Ramon's spiritual (existential?) self-development, which he offers to his followers as an alternative to the kind of development offered by Christianity. The Christian Church, he says, is degenerate, for i t has turned i t s people "into humble, writhing things that shall crave to be victimized, to be ravished" (p.271). By contrast, the gods which Ramon invents and for which he uses legend-ary Aztec names, are "manifestations" for men to "live by" (p.358). If then Ramon's gods are symbols of human self-development, what do they make manifest^ what do they sym-bolize? In the f i r s t place, the nature of the god Quet-zalcoatl is clearly the same as the nature of the morning star, already discussed. He is the god of l i f e lived in balance^ lord of both ways as opposed to Jesus who is spiritually lopsided (p.225); he's the god of body as well as s p i r i t , serpent-earth as well as bird-sky (p.225); in a land where the people have "swallowed the stone of de-spair" (p.22k) and from which Jesus and his Mother have 103 departed "like a tottering old man and a woman, tearless and bent double with age" (p.225), Quetzalcoatl is a god of new energy, "as a man who i s a new man, with new limbs and l i f e " (p.225). He is not a militant god, but one whose way must "spread of i t s e l f " (p.351). His way in-volves a return to nature in some senses, a refusal to be dominated by machinery or the new technology, a return to hand-woven serapes. to the membrane of the drum as signal of time, instead of the metal and machinery of the clock (p«359)» His way calls for a return to the deep emotion of the Indian dances, in place of flippant party-going and jazz music "without enough kick" (p.124). In place of the "flappers" who flap "with butterfly brightness and incongruous shrillness" (p.110), the men of Quetzal-coatl display a "strange nuclear power" (p.ll8 ) j and while Quetzalcoatl fosters in his adherents this "nuclear" self, at the same time he i s a god of universal communion draw-ing people together in a "soft, quaking, deep communion of blood one-ness" (p.4l6). It's this last characteristic particularly which turns out to be a big stumbling block for Kate. In the Western tradition of individualism, she finds i t hard to accept the mysterious blufebruderschaft which appears to be implied in the way of Quetzalcoatl* 104 She could not relax and be with these people. She could not relax and be with anybody. She always had to reco i l upon her individ-uality, as a cat does. (p.436) But her resistance breaks down in the end, when she realizes that the f i n a l product of her cat-like isolation w i l l be the "grimalkin" existence of an aging London hos-tess, and she decides to acquiesce tentatively in the communion of Quetzalcoatl rather than pay "that ghastly price" (p.437). The above l i s t of attributes of Quetzalcoatl is not as precise and illuminating as one might wish, but this very imprecision is part of the essential value of the symbol. Within the limits I've sketched or suggested above, Quetzalcoatl is fundamentally something new; a desire to break free from old formulations of selfhood and discover new l i f e . Even Ramon's f i r s t and staunchest con-vert has only a fuzzy idea of what the revival means* When Kate asks Cipriano to t e l l her an alternative to what he frustratedly labels her "U. S. A. thoughts," he can only define Quetzalcoatl for her as, "other thoughts, other feelings" (p.202). Even Kate never arrives at a clear definition of what she is converting to, but in a time of despair feels that i t is simply "the only escape from a world gone ghastly" (p.227). Teresa comes closest 105 to an understandable definition, when she quotes Ramon in her explanation to Kate of why she is willing to be a goddess of the culti "It i s accepting the greater respon-s i b i l i t y of one's existence . . . j^to]] try to be my sacred self" (p.43l). Next in the pantheon i s the god Huitzilopochtli. In his association with Cipriano, who embodies him, Huit-zilopochtli symbolizes militant self-defence. His char-acteristic posture i s "watching at the gates" (p,360). His colour is scarlet and he i s a source of indefatigable power in a man« "If you can summon the power of the red Huitzilopochtli into you, nobody can conquer you" (p.365)• He is not a provoker of wars, no Thor or Mars, but he does actively seek out and destroy those qualities that betray a man's spiritual integrity, collectively symbolized as "the grey dog«" From the l i a r s , from the thieves, from the false and treacherous and mean I see the grey dogs creeping out, where my deer are browsing in the dark Then I take my knife and throw i t upon the grey dog. (p.373) Therefore i t i s given to Huitzilopochtli to perform the ri t u a l k i l l i n g of the attackers of Jamiltepec in "Huit-zilopochtli' s Night" (Chapter Twenty-three). His function is specified in the hymn "Huitzilopochtli's Watch" (p.382) 106 as that of a guardian, so that the men of Quetzalcoatl may have "peace of nightfall," and "men in their manhood walk out / Into blue day, past Huitzilopochtli." So, i f we read the two main god symbols as qual-i t i e s within an individual's l i f e , we see that the revival asserts the value of a new and natural surge of energy (Quetzalcoatl), and a militant determination to keep one's soul free from falsehood or meanness in a l l their forms (Huitzilopochtli). These two gods are "manifestations" of moral philosophical concepts, supplied by Ramon with l i t -urgical and emblematic trappings for the people, to re-place the old Christian images and emblems and liturgy. Quetzalcoatl manifests the new way of being, and Huit-zilopochtli manifests the determination to hold to that way. Just as the gods are manifestations for the peo-ple, so the secondary characters are manifestations for the reader. Kate i s the reader's locus in the story, and the other characters are manifestations of different ways of being, amongst which she makes her choice and progresses in spiritual growth. Whereas the gods are rather static in the sense that there i s no personal intercourse between them and Kate—and to that extent the narrative i s often a b i t tedious—the other characters are live and f l u i d , not at a l l overweighted with symbolic significance because 107 their manifest significance is carried in natural motifs (mainly their eyes) rather than through theological em-blemism? their significance emerges from the way they interact with Kate (or are observed by her) and with one another. It's not a significance spelled out in liturgy, but a significance implicit in motifs of description and patterns of action. To discuss the f u l l significance of even one of the characters would be exhausting, perhaps impossible. I can only sketch and exemplify* The range of values stretches in a triangle with cogwheel V i l l i e r s at one apex, morning-star Ramon at another, reptile Juana and the Mexican peones at the third. Every-one else can be plotted within the boundaries of that dia-gram. Owen, for instance, i s near V i l l i e r s , and Cipriano is near Ramon. Carlota s i t s somewhere along the line be-tween V i l l i e r s and Juana, Teresa slightly on the Juana side of Ramon. Kate originates from the apex of V i l l i e r s and moves towards the apex of Ramon, but finds i t a d i f f i c u l t journey because the route involves getting closer to the apex of Juana which she finds very repulsive, though fas-cinating} she is never absolutely sure that Ramon's apex is quite different from Juana*s. Since we've already spent time looking at cogwheels 108 and the morning star, I might as well begin the expansion of my crude diagram with the new term, the reptiles. This is one of several motifs consistently applied to the peones in Kate's universe. For instance, much as she appreciates the gentleness, goodness and generosity of her household at the casa, Kate feels herself perpetually confronted by "that unconscious, heavy, reptilian indif-ference in them, indifference and resistance" (p.147). Though they have the strength to tote a piano single-handed through the streets, the Mexican peasants appal Kate by their lack of energy and i n i t i a t i v e . They " l i e through the small hours like lizards, numb and prostrate with cold" (p.150), when a l l they would need to do to be warm would be to carry home some corn husks or "even cover themselves with banana leaves. But no On a thin mat on damp cold earth they l i e and tremble with cold, night af-ter night" (p.150). Right from the start, Kate has f e l t that "in this Mexico, with i t s great under-drift of squalor and heavy reptile-like e v i l , i t was hard for her to bear up" (p.22). "It ought to have been a l l gay . . . . But no! There was the dark undertone, the black serpent-like fa-t a l i t y a l l the time" (pp.44-5), These generalizations about the reptilian fatalism of the peones f i l l Kate's mind around the time she is deciding whether or not to stay in 109 Mexico (Chapter Four, "To Stay or Not to Stay"). She thinks of the traditional Quetzalcoatl snake symbol as "this a l l -enwreathing dragon of horror of Mexico" (p.75) t and only decides not to leave the country at this point because Ramon t e l l s her he has a different vision to o f f e r i "To me, the men of Mexico are like trees . . . . The roots and the l i f e are there" ( p . ? 6 ) . iltepec; but instead of finding the signs of new,:, sprouting l i f e that Ramon envisioned, she at f i r s t goes on encountering such reptilian things as "the man in the bows coiled up like a serpent, watching" (p.101); and in her own household, "a basic, sardonic carelessness in the face of l i f e " (p . l35)» "a reptile mask" (p.144), and "a slightly imbecile face . . . [with] very black eyes s t i l l shining exposed and absorbedly in a rapt, reptilian sort of ecstasy" (p.211). Again and again, when she thinks out her commitment to the land and the people of Quet-zalcoatl, the horror of their fatalism and lethargy over-whelm her with revulsion. However, as Kate gets deeper into the heart of Quetzalcoatl, this revulsion is consid-erably alleviated in the direction of acceptance; the rep-t i l e motif subtly indicates the change: In the events in the Plaza, the fascinating "nuclear power of the men" (p. 118) So Kate moves away from the city, towards Jam-110 is also described as "something dark, heavy, and reptilian in their silence and their softness" (p.117) which places the motif in a positive context. And in an astonishing transformation much later on, Kate at one instant sees Cipriano as having blood "different . . . from hers, dark, blackish, like the blood of lizards" (p.314) and in the next instant i s repelled by the thought that he wants "his blood-stream to envelop hers" but goes right ahead and marries him! Kate's attitude to the reptile element in the Mexicans f i n a l l y comes clear in the "Teresa" chapter (Twenty-five) where she sees that the Quetzalcoatl revival doesn't imply acceptance of the reptilian fatalism of Mexico; rather, Quetzalcoatl i s at war with that element, just as the p o l i t i c a l establishment of President Montes i s . "Cipriano also had i t up against him.. But he suc-ceeded best. With his drums . . . ." (p.402). Signif-icantly enough, at this point in the story, Juana, the chief "reptilian" person in Kate's household, has dropped out of sight; when we last saw her, seventy pages pre-viously, a brief reminder of her "reptilian eyes" (p.331) was immediately followed by the information that her fam-i l y was in the process of converting to the new way, and then by Juana's admiring cries at the sight of the I l l Quetzalcoatl symbol on the churchi "No more crosses on the church. It is the eye of the Other One. Look! How i t shines! How nice!" (p.332). The f a t a l i s t i c , reptilian peones. who oppressed Kate e a r l i e r — a "ponderous down-pressing weight upon the s p i r i t ; the great folds of the dragon of the Aztecs, the dragon of the Toltecs" (p.44)— are undergoing transformation just as Kate i s , from the new energy and l i f e of Quetzalcoatl. The old reptilian eyes of Juana and her kind, which once gazed passively at the symbols of the executed Christ, now look up in wonder at the shining "Eye of the Other One." Kate can accept the peones of Mexico, because the ponderous, oppressive weight of the old dragons i s now l i f t e d by wings to the morning star, the old coiled snake has become a plumed serpent— perhaps. Cogwheel V i l l i e r s ' apex in the triangular anatomy of Kate's universe is easy enough to understand, expecially since I've already discussed the cogwheels motif. But i t ' s probably worth spending a l i t t l e time on Villierts'.;C.iase.st neighbour in the triangle, Owen Rhys. In rejecting Owen, Kate turns away from a particular kind of vision. He i s characterized as a typical "American" touristi "Swept with an American despair of having lived in vain, or of not having really lived, . . . he would stand craning^his neck 112 in one more frantic effort to see—just to see. Whatever i t was, he must see i t . . . . It was Life" (p.22). Kate rejects his unselective, panoramic approach to "Life," thanking God that she isn't Argus-eyed (p.22). Owen is a p o l i t i c a l l i b e r a l - s o c i a l i s t , interested in Russia and China, a dilletante collector of objects d'art, whose feelings are so jaded that he is always "rather pleased" to have his "susceptibilities . . . shocked" (p.47). " A l l his poetry and philosophy £are] gone with the cigarette end he £throwsJ away" (p.22). He stands in direct contrast to the men of Quetzalcoatl* they have a "darkly glowing, vivid nucleus of new l i f e " (p.118), whereas he is diffuse, part of "the pal l i d wanness and weariness" (p.118) of the world Kate has known up t i l l now. The superficiality of his vision contrasts with the "wondering, childlike, searching eyes" of Cipriano, "searching for himself" (p.170). Owen w i l l never have "haunted eyes" (p.185), like Kate, because his search for "Life" is a search after external t i t i l l a t i o n rather than inward vision. Kate parts from him easily at the start of the fourth chapter, and never thinks of him again. Owen is fatally infected with "the insidious modern disease of tolerance" (p.20), whereas Kate learns ih^time that "one must be limited. If one tries to be unlimited, one becomes horrible" (p.438). 113 The Ramon apex is obviously the most important of the three. Clustered around him are those who exhibit manifestations of life'.in the way of Quetzalcoatl—Cip-1 7 riano, Teresa, ultimately Kate herself. ' Ramon and Cipriano to a large degree embody the qualities of their respective gods. They differ from the gods qua gods, in that they interact with Kate, so her perceptions of them as people are about the closest the reader comes to the direct, practical meaning of morning star-dom. Cipriano in particular comes alive as a marvellous embodiment of Lawrence's visions Cipriano, his rather short but intensely black curved eyelashes lowering over his dark eyes, watched his plate, only some-times looking up with a black, b r i l l i a n t glance, either at whomsoever was speaking, or at Don Ramon, or at Kate. His face was changeless and intensely serious, serious almost with a touch of childishness. But the curious blackness of his eyelashes l i f t e d so strangely, with such intense unconscious maleness from his eyes, the movement of his hand was so odd, quick, light as he ate, so easily a movement of shooting, or of flashing a knife into the body of some adversary, and his dark-coloured lip s were so helplessly savage, as he ate or briefly spoke, that her heart stood s t i l l , (p.62) His intense moral seriousness, coupled with enormous energy and charismatic appearance, make Cipriano the most viva-cious person in the book. He inspires Kate with a wonder at the beauty of the natural world, uncorrupted by Western •114 technological intrusions. She awakes after seeing him the night before "with a new feeling of strength" (p.2 3 4 ) , and finds herself unable to resist buying the natural wares that are thrust at her daily and which she usually rejects* cactus vegetable, and a young red cockerel that flutters and crows and delights her (p.2 3 6 ) . Married to Cipriano, Kate finds a new and deeper sexuality than ever before* no longer "the white ecstasy of f r i c t i o n a l satisfaction," but something "dark and untenable" (p.421). This development comes about because their relationship (at least at f i r s t ) contains amecpal balance of the auras of one another's presence (p.422). He embodies the morning star, both in the brilliance and balance of his own l i f e , and in entering a ground of relationship with her which is balanced, not disturbed by the w i l l to dominate—at least that's what she thinks at f i r s t . By the end of the novel Kate isn't so sure any more about his w i l l (or i s i t her will?)—she just doesn't know. In some uncertainty on this point, she decides to stay with him for the overwhelming reason that "his touch could f i l l a l l the world with lustre" (p.4 3 7 ) . Cipriano represents to her the physical culmination of the revival of man in Quetzalcoatl. Ramon is the spiritual counterpart of Cipriano. His body isn't as attractive as Cipriano's* his eyes, for 115 instance, are simply "dark" not "black as jewels" like Cipriano's, she notices (p.62), He never appears to Kate in that aura of physical splendour which Cipriano gives off in, for instance, the bathing scene (pp.422-3)• But he does have an aura, an immensely powerful one. His aura i s internal, spiritual, Kate sees "the strange, soft, s t i l l sureness of him, as i f he sat secure within his own dark aura, . • . [from which} he emitted an effluence so power-fu l , that i t seemed to hamper her consciousness, to bind down her limbs" (p.181). Ramon has, in modern parlance, quietly "got i t together." In contrast to his "dark s t i l l -ness," Kate feels herself "hampered" and "cursed" and "pulled" by an "itching, prurient, knowing, imagining eye" (p.181). What she finds so attractive about Ramon is that he has his own way of being to teach her, which w i l l save her from "greedy vision" (p.181). What she's greedy for, we don't have defined for us in the text, but the term suggests her restlessness, in contrast to Ramon's quiet, self-containment. Again and again she feels the power of attained and isolate selfhood emanating from him, particu-l a r l y in the middle portion of the story. He has the strength of a powerful father* "The mystery, the nobility, the inaccessibility, and the vulnerable compassion of man in his separate fatherhood" (p.185). His s p i r i t spreads 116 over his own world at Jamiltepec "like a soft, nourishing shadow, and the silence of his own power gave i t peace" (p.16?). Ramon embodies what might be called the "per-sonal" morning star. I mean that he i s the one who has most fu l l y achieved an inner selfhood, and as such he i s a perfect model for Kate, at the level of an individual l i f e . Cipriano on the other hand embodies the "ground of relationship" morning star, and becomes a perfect—or nearly so—partner, rather than a model of individual being. Because of these different roles (in relation to Kate) played by the two men, they wax in importance to her at different places in the story* Ramon is in the main focus during the middle part of the book, when Kate i s mainly in-terested in the significance of Quetzalcoatl to her as an individual. Thus, from the seventh through about the twen-tieth chapter, in her oscillations into the unknown world of Quetzalcoatl, i t is to Ramon that she turns for company and advice. Even in the sixteenth chapter, entitled "Cip-riano and Kate," i t is Ramon round whom her thoughts con-tinually revolve; apparently recognizing this orientation of her thought, Cipriano uses Ramon's name and opinions as the main topic of conversation with her. Even his marriage proposal is couched in these terms* "Marry me, and help Ramon and me. We need a woman, Ramon says, to be with 117 us" (p.2 3 2 ) . The chapter concludes with her decision to go again to Jamiltepec, "to see Ramon, To talk to him even about marrying Cipriano" (p.243). In the twentieth chapter, Ramon marries her to Cipriano, and from that point he moves into the background. When she thinks of him i t ' s usually in conjunction with Cipriano; also she is interested in his relationship with Teresa, because from that she may be able to learn something useful to her re-lationship with Cipriano. In this last portion of the book, Kate no longer feels overwhelmed by the mystical power of Ramon's aura, because she has assumed the morning star already into her being; her old "greedy vision" has given place to "the new mystery of her own elusiveness" ( p . 3 1 8 ) . Because she is preoccupied now with trying to understand marriage and re-lationships, in the new way of being, she passes out of the limits of Ramon's relevance to her as teacher. For Ramon himself has never succeeded in attaining to this aspect of the morning star—the ground of relationship. In the church where Carlota makes a spectacle out of her resistance to the revival, Kate "hears" Ramon saying, "There-is no star be- tween me and Carlota" (p.3 4 1 ) . From this point on she sees him as more or less an equal with herself in this respect, trying to find an adequate basis of relationship in marriage. 118 "He was human as Kate was human" (p.41?), she realizes. Ramon himself never f a l s i f i e s the fact that he has failed in social relationships. To Kate, he confesses both his long-term misanthropy—"I despise and detest masses of people" (p.246)—and his failures with womeni "I have not a very great respect for myself. Women and I have failed with one another, and i t i s a bad failure to have 1 ft in the middle of oneself" (p.2 6 9 ) . Teresa, entering at the end of the story, pro-vides Kate with a confusing standard of comparison for herself. Teresa is a manifestation of total womanly sur-render, in Kate's eyes. For a l l the "secret, savage i n -domitable pride in her own womanhood," Teresa has given up her soul to Ramon because, "that other way of women, where a woman keeps her own soul—ah, what i s i t but wear-iness!" (p.411). Kate reacts violently to thisi "The slave morale!" she objects. She feels that Teresa's sur-render to Ramon contradicts the fundamental principle of the new l i f e in Quetzalcoatlt i t upsets the balance: "Did not this Teresa throw herself entirely into the male balance V ; so that a l l the weight was on the man's side?" (p.3 9 7 ) . This question i s not resolved by the end of the book. Teresa suggests that Kate i s mistaken about the na-ture of her and Ramon's marriage: "He does not ask 119 submission from me. He wants me to give myself gently to him. And then he gives himself back to me far more gently" (p.432). Further, she suggests that the two couples are quite different because of inherent personality t r a i t s , so that comparisons are not valid 1 Ramon and Teresa are gentle, Cipriano and Kate both "soldiers in their s p i r i t " (p.432). But whether or not Kate agrees with this anal-ysis, we never find out. Through the last, tortuous pages, Kate wrestles with the problem of her own individualism. The function of Teresa as an instrument of Lawrence's vi s -ion is to m^jifest one of the choices open to Kate. We leave Kate trembling on the brink of that choice, married, as Teresa i s married, but not yet ensconced in marriage as Teresa is ensconced. Thus Lawrence provides, as an ending, an image of the two aspects of the morning star in un-resolved suspension: the determination to be true to one's essential self, and the effort to attain a relationship of balance with another. 120 FOOTNOTES D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent (;i926i r p t . Londoni Heinemann "Phoenix" ed., 1955)» P» 288. Subsequent page references to t h i s e d i t i o n are incorporated i n the text. 2 L. D. Clark, Dark Night of the Bodvi D. H. Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent (Austini U. of Texas Press, 1964). 3 See, e.g.i F r . William Tiverton, D. H. Lawrence and Human Existence (Londoni Salisbury Square, 195D» P» 71» Harry T. Moore, D. H. Lawrencei His L i f e and Works (1951I r p t . New Yorki Twayne, 1964), p. 2 0 ? . L e a v i s . D. H. Lawrence, pp. 30 , 6 9 . 4 For instance, Jascha Kessler, "Descent i n Darkness1 The Myth of The Plumed Serpent." i n A D. H. Lawrence Mis- cellany, ed. Harry T. Moore (Carbondale, I l l . i S. I l l i n o i s U. Press, 1959), pp. 239-261, and James C Cowan, "The Symbolic Structure of The Plumed Serpent." TSE. 14 (1965) , 75-96. 5 E l i s e o Vivas, D. H. Lawrencei The F a i l u r e and the  Triumph of h i s Art (Evanston, I l l . i Northwestern U. Press, I960), p. 6 7 . Keith A l l d r i t t , The V i s u a l Imagination of  D. H. Lawrence (Londoni Arnold, 197D» p. 2 3 0 . 6 Eugene Goodheart, The Utopian V i s i o n of D. H. Lawrence (Chicago 1 U. of Chicago Press, 1963)» p. l * + 2 . V i v a s , pp. 79-80. 7 Clark presents t h i s approach i n Dark Night of the Body. o Kessler, "Descent i n Darkness." 9 Vivas, p. 8 I 1 "But we are an irreverent, contumacious l o t , and remembering Ramon's painted face, h i s breechclout and h i s feathers, we have a l l we can do to suppress our jeers." IQ Graham Hough's term. The Dark Sum A Study of D. H.  Lawrence (Londoni Duckworth, 19563, p. 136. 1 1 Lawrence uses t h i s form of the word "withershins." 1 2 The most s t r i k i n g instance of Lawrence's use of t h i s kind of pause i n the midst of complex or charged passages of language i s the digression on trees i n the fourth chapter of Fantasia of the Unconscious. 1 3 Vivas, pp. 71-72. l 2 f Moore, L i f e and Works, p. 6 7 . 121 *5 Kate never does f u l l y and absolutely embrace Quetzalcoatl, and t h i s unresolved matter i s a feature of her delicate balance at the end. Some c r i t i c s f i n d t h i s a flaw i n her characterization. For instance, Hough c a l l s her i n a b i l i t y to decide f i n a l l y whether to be M a l i n t z i or Kate Forrester the book's " f a t a l weakness" (Hough, p. 14-5). There are also several studies which point out that Kate doesn't complete a proper mythic pattern of "psychic death and reintegration, a return into l i f e and renewed a c t i v i t y . " RvE*.Pritchard, Body of Darkness (Londoni Hutchinson, 1971), p. 177. Such c r i t i c i s m imposes on Lawrence, rather than i l l u m i n a t i n g h i s v i s i o n . ^ See, e.g. Moore, L i f e and Works, p. 201, and William Y. T i n d a l l , D. H. Lawrence and Susan his Cow (New Yorki Columbia U. Press, 1939). Clark, i n Chapter Four of Dark  Night of the Body, wisely reminds us that the r e l i g i o n of Quetzalcoatl i s an invention of Lawrence's, and one of the donnees of the book that we simply have to accept, but i n the next chapter he b e l i e s his good intentions by engaging i n such discussions as whether the Morning Star s i g n i f i e s C h r i s t or L u c i f e r . 1 7 For a discussion of Carlota's symbolic role i n the novel, see Clark, pp. 61 f f . 1 8 Note the masturbatory nature of Ramon's prayer posture i n the f i r s t f i v e paragraphs of Chapter Eleven. CHAPTER FOUR D. H. Lawrence's The Man Who Died» The Rhythms of Blooming " I t was not the t r u t h , but the s t i r r i n g , l i v e q u a l i t y i n Lawrence's t r u t h which upset people." "Lawrence went a t the r e v e r s a l o f v a l u e s not with i n d i f f e r e n c e but with poetry, with r e -l i g i o u s f e r v o r , and he h i t lower than e i t h e r Huxley or Gide. He h i t the c e n t e r , the v u l -n e r a b l e c e n t e r o f : o u r bodies with h i s p h y s i c a l  language, h i s p h y s i c a l v i s i o n . " — A n a i s Win 123 The plot and the language of The Man Who Died are both stikingly unusual; they are mannered fi c t i o n a l devices which c a l l attention to themselves and thus to the vision of reality which they express. The fact that the plot is a radical distortion of Christianity's central myth sug-gests that the vision expressed has a deep seriousness, and invites a seriousness of reading equal in energy to the traditional study of the scriptures. 2 To read this novel seriously, and on i t s own terms, requires a rather special suspension of disbelief, a rather special submission to both plot and language. In other words, the book t e l l s a remarkably strange story in strange language, and the re-sponse a c r i t i c a l reader owes i t i s , f i r s t , to experience those strange elements as directly and deeply as possible. The strangeness I refer to includes (apart from the distor-tions of the Christ story3), such things asi The pervasive recurrence of verbal motifs (like the "crest" motif) and symbolically highlighted objects (such as the cock); the strong undulations in the narrative style, f u l l of climaxes, cumulations, antiphonal movements; the use of jargonesque terms (such as "the l i t t l e day," "the greater day," and 124 various kinds of "suns"—"day suns" and "invisible suns" and "wounds that are suns" etc.). The strangeness of the story disturbs readers. My experience of both c r i t i c s arid undergraduate students suggests that i t is very hard simply to pay close attention to the text and accept i t and try to experience i t for what i t i s . On the one hand, freshman and sophomore readers are often so startled by the eccentricity of the plot, that their awareness of the range of the narrative elements is swamped by this consideration and stops there. On the other hand, more sophisticated c r i t i c s , squelching whatever sur-prise they might have f e l t , in general merely attempt to relate the story to something outside i t s e l f or else dis-. 4 miss i t outright as bad art. Apart from three qualified exceptions,^ I really can't say I have encountered a c r i t -ique of this story which l e f t me with an increased aware-ness of i t . Such reactions of shock and/or repudiation on the part of readers are entirely consistent with my basic thesisi As a r t i s t of vision, Lawrence takes the primary source-book of Christian values and extends i t into a pre-sentation of radically different values; society, informed by Christian values, retaliates by denying the validity of his vision in one way or another. 425 Published criticism of The Man Who Died f a l l s in-to the same pattern as that of responses to The Plumed  Serpentt already discussed. Therefore I shall not repeat myself in this chapter by documenting the many instances of c r i t i c s who import expectations to the text and then go on to deprecate the story for i t s failure to measure up to these expectations, and who end up reevaluating the story as something else* the working out of a myth; or a parallel expression of some pre-existent tradition of thought; or evidence of Lawrence's health at the time of composition, etc.^ Leaving such c r i t i c s aside then, I shall try to deal with the text on i t s own terms. The Man Who Died offers the reader a compact way of experiencing the development of a personality through physical and mental rhythms. To emphasize the unusual qualities, of the book's prose I offer an odd definition* This story i s a dramatically vivid script of a series of v i t a l convulsions—spasms of motivation followed by exhaus-tion—together with a series of waves of understanding that develop out of the experiences. This a l l takes place in the Man, and by identification in the sympathetic reader. For any reader willing to make that identification, I think the story has a powerful force which exerts i t s e l f not as doctrine or disembodied idea, but as a personal, dramatic 126 experience of growth—a sort of "t r i p " of the psyche. To provide myself and my reader with a convenient discursive framework, I choose to separate the physical from the men-tal rhythms, but in the actual reading experience of the story, as in a l l human livin g I suppose, the two levels of experience are integrated, not separate. i RHYTHMS OF BODY Between lying inert in the tomb at the start of the story, and rowing off into the future at the end, The Man Who Died undergoes a developing series of physical ex-periences. The experiences are rhythmic in a crudely b i -ological sense, i.e. they intensify and then dissipate: begin in stillness, move to a climax of energy, pass through the climax, then revert to stillness; like the systole-diastole of the heartbeat; or like orgasm; or the sleep-wake-work-play-tire-sleep pattern of daily l i f e . Most ev-idently in Part One, this series of bodily rhythms makes up a large portion of the " f e l t l i f e " of the story, for the Man and for the reader. The f i r s t rhythmic movements in the series are those of the rooster. The l i t t l e sketch of the gamecock's f i r s t surge to freedom is a preliminary capsule analogue 127 of the rest of the story; and as such we might expect to find the sketch rendered in the f l a t vocabulary of concep-tual patterning. But i s isn't. Rich physicality of diction, together with the cumulations and discharges of the narra-tive movements even in this short sketch, provide a strong kinaesthetic entrance into the rhythms of the larger story. The cock starts out as an ."acquired . . . shabby l i t t l e thing," who transforms within f i f t y words to a bird "re-splendent with arched and orange neck." (p.3). 7 From that brief climax of energy and colour, the narrative drops at once to the mediocre^ ^languid world of the peasant couple with their "dirty l i t t l e inner courtyard" and "three shabby hens that laid small eggs," the "dull donkey," the lazy man and his wife who also "did not work too hard." Now twenty- lines into the story, the narrative rises again to the cock, to "a certain splendour," "a dandy rooster" with "a special fiery colour to his crow," and fi n a l l y , "unexpected outbursts." Back down (line 28) to the petty, fearful world of the peasants, who begin to fear their cock w i l l f l y away, so they slyly trick him with grain and tie him up to the "dull donkey's" post. For three paragraphs the tethering of the cock's energy reduces him to the low level of the peasants' 128 ambience, but then, in the last paragraph of the sketch, up he rises to freedom on "a sudden wave of strength," cry-ing out, f i r s t with a "wild strange squawk," then in "a loud and split t i n g crow." The bird's freedom has bloomed out of the dreary restrictions of the peasants' yard, and the rhythm of this blooming is carried in the waxing and waning of narrative and diction. (At this point I urge my reader to pick up the text and read these f i r s t two pages, in order to really feel the rhythmic physicality and kinaesthesis that I am merely talking about. Such a reading w i l l reveal that there are in fact many more, smallrhythmic waves within the larger undulation of nar-rative that I have traced.) A transitional paragraph ("at the same time, at the same hour . . .") immediately connects the cock with the Man in the tomb, whose story now begins. His story too is a blooming conveyed through rhythms of word and story line, and the reader's involvement i s incremental with each new cycle and movement of rhythm. The limited physical progress achieved by the Man in Part One i s a progress from utter numbness and immobilizing nausea, to a healed state consisting in a sharpening of the physical senses and a ready mobility. He reverts, at the end of Part One, to feeling nauseated, but in a different way 129 than earlier* At the start i t was "a deep, deep nausea £thatj stirred in him at the premonition of movement," (my emphasis). At the end of Part One, his nausea is his re-action, not to motion in general, but to the prospect of social intercourse. Rather than immobilizing him, this latter state of nausea is highly motivational, causing him to flees "So always he must move on " (p.22) . Then, in Part Two, the Man progresses from a hermit-like isolation, through the increasingly physical rhythms of intercourse (ultimately sexual intercourse), to a climatic moment of what he ca l l s "atonement" (p.44) in which he feels himself to be a wholly integrated part of the physical universe, "in i t s perfume, as in a touch." An important difference between the cock's story and the Man's is that the f i r s t i s rendered from an ex-ternal viewpoint, while the second is rendered from an internal one (despite the fact that the story remains throughout a third-person narrative, not an internal mono-logue). This difference creates a progressive inductive effect on the readers He feels f i r s t the rhythms of the cock's resurgence through a description of how the cock is seen to act, following which he begins to feel much more deeply the rhythms of the Man's resurgence, by being drawn into a continuum of sensation and thought, not just a continuum of appearance and action. The cock's story •.130 creates the pattern of events, and the Man's story devel-ops the in t e r n a l sensation of l i k e events i n an amplifica-t i o n of the pattern. To demonstrate the bodily rhythms of the Man's story would involve tediously tracking the narrative, l i n e by l i n e , i f I were to cover the whole ground. Therefore I s h a l l discuss just one rhythmic cycle i n each of the two Parts, i n order to make my points without tedium. In Part One, as I've said already, the Man pro-gresses from a state of nausea to a state of being healed. Of the many c y c l i c stages i n t h i s progress I s h a l l examine the one inolving the confrontation with Madeleine. When he meets her, the Man has already made quite a l o t of pro-gress. He has overcome hi s s t a s i s , and r i s e n from the tombj he has overcome his revulsion to food, and eaten; at the peasants' home, he has emerged from "a kind of coma" (p.10) and taken to l y i n g i n the sun to f e e l the cool morning a i r and watch the "pale sky:" he has developed a detached attitude of superiority tinged with compassion for the peasants. Now, i n a state of moderate strength and set£-su f f i c i e n c y , he decides to go back to the garden outside the tomb. The words are worth noting: 131 And at dawn when he was better, the man who had died rose up, and on slow, sore feet retraced his way to the garden. For he had been betrayed in a garden, and buried in a garden, (p.12) Evidently he feels strong enough to go back to a scene of failures, perhaps because—consciously or subconsciously— he wishes to confront the past and transcend i t . Whatever his motive, his arrival in the garden creates an inner conflict between his past values and those which are ger-minating in his present l i f e . He is at f i r s t overcome by the conflict, but then he is resurrected by i t to new strength. This decline and resurgence takes place in a directly physical way, and Lawrence uses a number of prose techniques to force the physicality of the experience on the reader. At f i r s t the Man i s obviously feeling pretty strong, strong enough to engage in a long conversation with Madeleine in which he repudiates his former role as saviour. Her disappointment sets up the f i r s t tension of conflict: "And w i l l you not come back to us?" she said. "Have you risen for yourself alone?" He heard the sarcasm in her voice . . . . "I have not risen from the dead in order to seek death again," he said. (p.Ik) The expenditure of energy in thus resisting Madeleine's challenge weakens his morale and his body: She glanced up at him and saw the wear-iness settling again on his waxy face, and the vast d i s i l l u s i o n in his dark eyes, and the underlying indifference. 132 Notice how these l a s t three p h r a s e s — " t h e weariness...," "the d i s i l l u s i o n . . . , " "the i n d i f f e r e n c e . . . , " — c r e a t e a r h y t h m i c / a l l i t e r a t i v e e f f e c t l i k e the spasms of na u s e a t i o n which he i s e x p e r i e n c i n g , and which i s soon d e t a i l e d f u r t h e r . H i s s t r e n g t h i s crumbling f a s t . He had wanted the support of o l d f r i e n d s , but he r e a l i s e s t h a t h i s former f o l l o w e r s w i l l r e j e c t him " f o r having r i s e n up d i f f e r e n t from t h e i r e x p e c t a t i o n . " So, as though to c o n f i r m t h e i r r e j e c t i o n o f him, he asks Madeleine now f o r money and an i n v i t a t i o n to l i v e i n her house; and her domineering ac-ceptance o f the request ("'Now?' she s a i d with p e c u l i a r triumph,") r e v o l t s him, "who now shrank from triumph of any s o r t . " H i s s t r e n g t h i s gone: The words f a l t e r e d i n him. . . . A r e v u l s i o n from a l l the l i f e he had known came over him again, the g r e a t nausea of d i s i l l u s i o n , and the s p e a r t h r u s t through h i s bowels. He crouched under the myrtle bushes without s t r e n g t h . Yet h i s eyes were open . . . . (pp.14-15) In these words we see him a t the n a d i r o f h i s c y c l e o f s t r e n g t h , c r o u c h i n g speechless under the bush ( a f t e r stand-i n g and v i r t u a l l y p r e a c h ing a t her two pages p r e v i o u s l y ) , and immediately f o l l o w i n g the n a d i r , the beginning of the "up" c y c l e : That "yet" i s the t u r n i n g p o i n t . From here on he begins to r e v i v e , a t the same time as and because her 133 power begins to decline* She sees in his eyes the evi-dence that he is different ("not the Master she had so adored") and she is "thrown out of the balance," and de-parts at once, "perturbed and shattered." (Notice how-ever that as she goes she begins an "up" cycle of her own, motivated through fantasy* "Yet as she went, her mind discarded the bitterness of the reality, and she conjured up rapture and wonder, that the Master was risen . . . .") In the passing nadir of his strength, the Man "gathered himself together at last and slowly made his way to the peasant's house." Once there, his energy of self-gathering disappears and he l i e s down "sick with r e l i e f at being alone again." Another brief nadir* " [He]] turned utterly away from l i f e , in the sickness of death in l i f e . " But the peasant's wife quickly rouses him with food. Now, back from the garden and revived, the Man finds himself very much strengthened by the cycle^of.'conflict with Mad-eleine; he quickly and permanently comes to the realization that he does not need immediate human contacts. He can af-ford to wait "an eternity of time" (p.17) for a new kind of human relationship such as he has never before had. He cuts his simple ties with the peasants and sets off into another cycle—the last in Part One, which ends in a tem-porary reversion to nausea. 134 The cycle just sketched, then, is a movement from limited strength, to conflict, to terrible weakness (crouching inarticulate under the myrtle bush), to re-surgence and healing ("the sun and the subtle salve of spring healed his wounds, even the gaping wound of dis-i l l u s i o n through his bowels was closing up" jjp.lfcTJ ). It is only one of a series of cycles, a major one, taking up •six of the twenty-odd pages in Part One. The physical rhythm of the experience is rendered partly by the se-quence of events, partly by mechanisms of prose—one of which I've noted above on p.132. The most obvious of these mechanisms is the constant placement of verbal con-nectives in incremental or contrastive l o g i c i "But," "so," "and," "yet," "meanwhile," "then," "as," "again," "now," "instead," "any more," "at last," and so on. No reader can f a i l to feel the pattern created by these con-nectives; i t carries the narrative in a perpetual o s c i l -lation of consciousness which is evident even in the bits of quotes above. Earlier, we find this f a i r l y compact example« The peasant man came home, but he was frightened, and had nothing to say. The stranger too ate of the mess of beans, a l i t t l e . Then he washed his hands and turned to the wall, and was silent. The peasants were silent too. They watched their guest sleep. Sleep was so near death he could still!:sie;ep. 135 Yet when the sun came up, he went a g a i n to l i e i n the y a r d . The sun was the one t h i n g t h a t drew him and swayed him, and he s t i l l wanted to f e e l the c o o l a i r of morning i n h i s n o s t r i l s , see the p a l e sky overhead, (p.10) Notice how t h i s passage c o n t a i n s a d e c l i n e i n energy from the b e g i n n i n g to the end of the f i r s t paragraph, b e g i n n i n g with the "but" phrase and extended by "and," "too," "Then," "and," "and," "too," " s t i l l . " The second paragraph r e v e r s e s the flow o f energy i n the n a r r a t i v e with i t s opening "Yet" and extends i t i n the new d i r e c t i o n by "again," " s t i l l , " and a. pSfcraLtZLCtic. c o n s t r u c t i o n . T h i s d e v i ce i s q u i t e common i n Lawrence, though there are few p l a c e s i n h i s Writ-CD ings where i t i s used so e x t e n s i v e l y . Probably t h i s t e c h -nique more than any other i n the s t o r y h e l p s to p l a c e the a c t i o n i n a very immediately sensed continuum of the Man's consci o u s n e s s , both p h y s i c a l and mental ( — a r a t h e r un-u s u a l e f f e c t , g i v e n the t h i r d person n a r r a t o r . ) V a r i a t i o n of sentence tempo i s another technique used e x t e n s i v e l y i n the Madeleine s e c t i o n and elsewhere to mark d i f f e r e n t stages i n the c y c l e s o f b o d i l y s t r e n g t h . In moments o f g r e a t e s t s t r e n g t h , the words come tumbling out i n compound and o f t e n appositional c o n s t r u c t i o n s , c r e a t -i n g i n the reader p r e c i s e l y t h a t same sense of energy ( i n reading) as the Man a t those moments f e e l s . F or inst a n c e * 136 "My p u b l i c l i f e i s over, the l i f e of my s e l f -importance. Now I can wait on l i f e , and say nothing, and have no one b e t r a y me. I wanted to be g r e a t e r than the l i m i t s of my hands and f e e t , so I brought b e t r a y a l on myself. And I know I wronged Judas, my poor Judas. For I have d i e d , and now I know my own l i m i t s . Now I can l i v e without s t r i v i n g to sway o t h e r s any more. For my reach ends a t my f i n g e r t i p s , and my s t r i d e i s no l o n g e r than the ends of my t o e s . Yet I would embrace m u l t i t u d e s , I who have never t r u l y embraced even one. But Judas and the high p r i e s t s saved me from my own s a l v a t i o n , and soon I can t u r n to my des-t i n y l i k e a bather i n the sea a t dawn, who has j u s t come down to the shore alone." ( p . 1 3 ) Speed Readers, I imagine, won't f e e l the t e c h n i c a l impact of t h i s . But to any reader doing even a minute amount of s u b v e r b a l i z i n g as he reads, the e f f e c t of such a passage i s an e x c i t a t i o n and sense of e n e r g e t i c f u l l n e s s d i r e c t l y comparable to the Man's b o d i l y s e n s a t i o n s . By c o n t r a s t , u a t the lowest p o i n t i n the garden scene, "the words f a l t e r e d i n him " (p.14). He manages to u t t e r only f i v e or s i x c l i p p e d s y l l a b l e s , "Nay! . . . I d i d n ' t ask t h a t , " c o r r e s p o n d i n g to h i s s t a t e of nauseous exhaustion as he s i n k s to c r o u c h i n g under the m y r t l e s . A s h o r t while l a t e r h i s weariness and d i s i l l u s i o n m e n t from the encounter are o b j e c t i f i e d i n the heavy slow tempo of the c o n v e r s a t i o n - s t o p p i n g words as he hands the money to the peasant's w i f e i "Take i t ! . , . I t buys bread, and bread b r i n g s l i f e " (p.16). T h i s sequence of p l o s i v e b i l a b i a l s (buys, bread, bread, b r i n g s ) followed 137 by the sigh-like, high diphthong and fricative of " l i f e " create in the reader's mouth the precise sensation of ex-haustion of a man dropping "down in the yard again, sick with r e l i e f . " In Part Two the progress from physical isolation to physical intercourse takes place through numerous cycles of contact and withdrawal. The focus of action i s the Temple of Isis, where the Man and the Woman meet several times in a growing intimacy. I should like to examine the second meeting, of which the plot is as .follows* Having sent for the Man in his cave, the lady emerges from the temple to meet him for a second time. She accuses him of having "the marks of a malefactor" (p.31) and he responds "with a gray weariness," by offering frankly to depart. Evidently he wishes to avoid the debilitating mess of ex-planations and recriminations. However, looking at him she has a "sudden impulse" (p.32) and invites him into the temple to look at Isis, "pondering that this was the lost Osiris." His energy is roused by her ini t i a t i v e * "Some-thing stirred in him, like pain," at her invitation. He accepts, enters and makes his obeisance to the goddess. Watching him, she grows more excited and convinced that this is the man she is looking for, Osiris. "She f e l t i t in the quick of her soul." He senses her designs on him 138 and immediately retreats from the temple in a panic of "the wild commandment!Noli me tangere ! Touch me not!" She begs him not to go away. He agrees to stay in the cave for another night, which delights her, and they part for the rest of the daylight hours. He (virgin that he is) spends the rest of the day fretting over her, and eat-ing shellfish. Meanwhile, she is back in the temple, working herself into submission "to the woman flow and to the urge of Isis in Search" (p.196). At sundown she comes to find him, they converse and she promises him food and clothing which she then goes off to arrange. Later that night they meet at the cave, and later s t i l l they have their third temple meeting, during which they make love. The physical and emotional vacillations of the Man in this second meeting with the Woman (and in the brief aftermath of isolation) are a good deal more subtle as f i c t i o n a l material than either the events of the f i r s t meeting, which precedes i t , or the third, which follows (the consummation scene). This second meeting is the de-licate courtship in which the positive qualities of the sexual relationship as envisioned in the novel are most clearly and finely delineated. These qualities are« se-l e c t i v i t y based on mutual tenderness, respect for the i n -dividuality or privacy of the other, and desire. These three qualities are rendered in a cumulation of physical sensations leading to a feeling (in the Man) of: the in-evitability of unioni "He was startled (when she arrived at sundown, looking for him) vet he expected her" (p.33 my emphasis). Of the three, desire is the easiest to i l l u -minate, so I ' l l begin with thati It begins, I suppose, when he f i r s t sees the image of the goddess, in at\extra-ordinary, sensuous simileJ "Striding like a ship, eager in the swirl of her gown" (p.3 2 ) . This sight evokes from him the emotionally all i t e r a t i v e cry, "Wonderful is such walking in a woman, wonderful the goal." Further unusual images evoke further emotioni He sees her face "open like a flower," and "his loins stirred." Later, he sees her "like a soft, musing cloud," and he is smitten "with passion and compassion" (p.3 ^ ) . The mannered peculiarity of these unexpected similes is striking to a sensitive reader, and thus brings home the freshness and the strength of the Man's gradually rising desire. Similarly mannered images evoke the climax of that desire lateri He experiences her embrace as "a power of li v i n g warmth, like the folds of a river" (p.4 2 ) , and as "the girdle of the liv i n g woman." At last, in a startling dislocation of Christ's words - to Peter, she i s "the soft white rock of l i f e " (p.4 3 ) . 140 The other two qualities, tender selectivity and respect for one another's privacy, are conveyed by several intricacies of plot and diction. The slow stages of pro-gress in which the lovers touch and part, touch and part, render both qualities, and in a manner which is saved from becoming comic (like the l i t t l e toy dogs on their magnets) by intervening periods of feverish self-searching ("Shall I give myself into this touch? Shall I . . ." "Dare I come into this tender touch of l i f e ? " (p.33); "and art thou not Osiris?" (p.34); "Ah! how terrible to f a i l her, or to trespass on her!" (p.39) etc.) The delicacy and decorum of language, sustained throughout,9 draw the reader steadily to a climax of naive delight and gentleness. After a long sequence of mainly incremental connectives ("and," "so,") the continuum of the Man's consciousness in the last three pages resumes i t s earlier contrastive logic ("but," "yet," "yet not") so that the story ends back once more in the see-saw rhythm of conflicting motivationsi "She i s dear to me in the middle of my being. But the gold and flowing serpent i s coiling up again, to sleep at the root of my tree. "So let the boat carry me. Tomorrow is another day." (p.47) Any reader who submits his sensibility to these physical rhythms in the story, comes through i t with a gutsy knowledge of the experience of personality revival: 141 : cycles of being down, then up, down again, up again, con-tinuously but not repetitiously. For there is progress, not repetition; there is a perpetual progress into new kinds of activity, leaving the last behind, a l l of which amounts to a blooming of the self through rhythmic stages f i r s t of debilitation, then of renewed energy. This pro-gress is the vision of l i f e ' s reality woven into the prose texture of the book. The Man's growth or progress is rendered by techniques of cumulation. I.e. the "up" stages in the cycles at the beginning are less complete and less power-fu l than the "up" stages at the end. In his early suc-cesses in the process of coming back to l i f e , there i s s t i l l a portion of death. (E.g. " . . . now I am risen in my own aloneness and inherit the earth,,. . . " i s followed in the same paragraph by ". . . already I am tired and weak, and want to close my eyes to everything" ^p.2o}). In his later success however, especially in his climactic moment three pages from the end, there i s no such qualifying weakness. (See, for instance, the paragraph "But the man looked at the vivid stars . . . " Jpp.43-44J). Thus,tat the physical level alone—and perhaps most strongly at this level—the reader experiences the progress in the Man's resurrection. The other level, the level of mental rhythms, 142 i s p r obably l e s s powerful as an instrument of " f e l t l i f e " though i t i s the more c l e a r l y d e f i n a b l e o f the two prose idioms by which the Man's pro g r e s s i s marked. i i THOUGHT RHYTHMS In the course of the Man's p e r s o n a l i t y growth, h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l self-awareness keeps pace with the c y c l e s of b o d i l y r e v i v a l . T h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l p r o g r e s s i s r e n -dered l a r g e l y by means of the r e c u r r e n c e of c e r t a i n m o t i f s , some o f them i m a g i s t i c , some p u r e l y a b s t r a c t . The imag-i s t i c m o t i f s i n c l u d e such t h i n g s as* Flowers ( n a r c i s s u s , l o t u s , r o s e , e t c . ) ' the sun, i n s e v e r a l v a r i a t i o n s of per-c e p t i o n (warm sun, dark sun, i n v i s i b l e sun, e t c . ) ; b i r d s (cock, dove, n i g h t i n g a l e , e t c . ) ' the f o u r elements (rock, flame, sea, space.) Among the a b s t r a c t m o t i f s are such terms as "the g r e a t e r day" and "the l e s s e r day," ( c o r r e s -ponding to "the g r e a t e r l i f e " and"the l e s s e r / l i t t l e l i f e " ) , "compulsion," " w i l l , " "touch," e t c . The " c r e s t " a l s o f i g -u res very prominently as a m o t i f , appearing sometimes as an image and a t other times as a concept. I wish to show how the use of m o t i f s i s a technique-by which Lawrence c r e -ates a t e x t u r e of i n t e l l e c t u a l p r ogress i n the n a r r a t i v e , complementing the c y c l e s of p h y s i c a l p r o g r e s s . To do so, 143 I s h a l l t r e a t the moti f of p l a n t s ( i m a g i s t i c ) , and the mo t i f of the g r e a t e r / t h e l e s s e r day ( a b s t r a c t ) . The m o t i f o f p l a n t s i s by f a r the most complex of a l l the m o t i f s i n t h i s n o v e l . In one form or another i t occurs a t p r a c t i c a l l y every major p o i n t i n the Man's prog r e s s , so t h a t i t would be p o s s i b l e f o r a reader, by f o l l o w i n g only t h i s one strand i n the te x t u r e of n a r r a -t i v e , to know p r e t t y w e l l what changes the Man's head i s going through. On a second or t h i r d r e a d i n g one d i s c o v e r s amazingly s u b t l e usages of the motif, and I s h a l l begin with one of these s u b t l e t i e s i n order to make my p o i n t as f i n e l y as p o s s i b l e , before going on to t r a c k major usages through the n a r r a t i v e . When the Man emerges from the tomb, he sees the world around him s p e c i f i c a l l y i n terms of d u l l v e g e t a t i o n , a l i e n to him. ". . . p a s t the o l i v e s , under which p u r p l e anemones were drooping i n the c h i l l of dawn, and r i c h green herbage was p r e s s i n g t h i c k . The world, the same as ever, the n a t u r a l world of morning and evening, f o r e v e r undying, from which he had die d " (p.6). Ten l i n e s l a t e r he i s e l e c -t r i c a l l y j o l t e d out of h i s " h a l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s " i n t h i s d u l l environment by "the s h r i l l , w i l d crowing of a cock." S h i v -e r i n g with excitement from the e l e c t r i c a l e f f e c t , he looks up and sees the cock s i t t i n g on a branch, l i k e a v i v i d 144 f l o w e r . The n a r r a t i v e e x p l i c i t l y c o n t r a s t s t h i s v i s i o n with the d u l l v e g e t a t i o n through which he has j u s t p i c k e d h i s d i s i l l u s i o n e d ways "Leaping out of greenness came the b l a c k and orange cock, h i s t a i l f e a t h e r s streaming l u s t r o u s " (my emphasis). The c o l o u r f u l cock, bloomlike a g a i n s t a d u l l background, c a t a l y z e s a r e a c t i o n i n the Man who, from t h i s p o i n t on, begins to see around him a n a t u r a l world f u l l of energy and c o l o u r . The man who had d i e d looked nakedly on l i f e , and saw a v a s t r e s o l u t e n e s s everywhere, f l i n g i n g i t s e l f up i n stormy or s u b t l e wave-c r e s t s , foam t i p s emerging out of the blue i n v i s i b l e , a b l a c k and orange cock or the green flame-tongues out of the extremes of the f i g t r e e . (p.10) In other words, because the Man looked around i n the d u l l v e g e t a t i o n and saw a b r i l l i a n t , c o l o u r f u l cock s i t t i n g on a branch where a flower or a l e a f y twig might have been, h i s p e r c e p t i o n of the n a t u r a l world changess before i t was simply a d u l l world "from which he had d i e d " and to which he d i d not r e a l l y want to r e t u r n ; but now i t has become e x c i t i n g , a world of "green l e a v e s s p u r t i n g l i k e flames" (p.9)« The q u a s i - f l o r a l appearence of the b r i l l i a n t b i r d has l i t e r a l l y opened h i s eyes to the world; he l i e s s t i l l , "With eyes t h a t had died now wide open and d a r k l y s t i l l , s e e i n g the e v e r l a s t i n g r e s o l u t e n e s s of l i f e . . . QtheJ sharp wave of l i f e o f which the b i r d was the c r e s t . " I t ' s l45 r as though the appearance.;of the bird on the hough taught him that things in the known world aren't necessarily as humdrum as they appear, that in fact i t might be possible to have a different sort of existence, to leap out of greenness. This example illustrates subtle usage, as I said} yet the subtleties l i e there in the text, for the second or third reading. I pass on to more overt usages. In discussing the physical rhythms of the story, I said that the Man progresses from nausea to healing to being in touch. The same progress, as rendered by the plant motif, is a progress from alienation to progressive integration with the natural world, through the following stages: F i r s t he sees the world as an alien, vegetable continuum} next as a dual world made up on the one hand of individual plants, amidst which he is a (rather alienated) part—"some strange flower" (p.9) — * and on the other hand of people, from whom he is totally alienated} next he sees the world as^a place in which there is a special group of solitary people who are like special flowers (narcissus, lotus) and with whom he hopes he can relate} and fi n a l l y , he sees the world as i t s e l f flowerlike and himself as to-tally integrated with i t as a result of relationship with a flower-like woman.10 146 The "alien vegetable continuum" I have already-shown briefly above. Emerging from the tomb, the Man finds drooping anemones and undying, thronging greenness. He doesn't feel he belongs here—he has already died out of this world. The cock precipitates a change in his con-sciousness, and the plant motif symbolically records the nature of that change. He begins to notice the separate- ness of each planti He f e l t the cool silkiness of the young wheat under his feet that had been dead, and the roughishness of i t s separate l i f e was apparent to him. At the edges of rocks, he saw the silky, silvery-haired buds of the scarlet anemone bending downwards. And they too were in another world. In his own world he was alone, utterly alone. These things around him were in a world that had never died. (p.8) Despite the alienation implicit in the last part of this quotation, the Man is coming closer to relationship with the natural world: notice that the "buds of the scarlet anemone" are "bending downwards," which suggests a less gloomy ambience than that of the earlier perception where "purple anemones were [merely] drooping" (p.6). Soon the Man sees himself in a f l o r a l image, suggesting a definite progress in his sensation of partial integration with the world: He has perfumes coming from his body "as i f from some strange flower" (p.9). As he moves slightly in the direction of kinship with the plants, he realises that he 14? wants n o t h i n g whatever to do with people. ("It was l i f e , i n which he had no share any more . . . . Yet he was there and not e x t i n g u i s h e d " £pp.9 - l cQ . "And he wanted no one, f o r i t was b e s t to be alone; f o r the presence of people made him l o n e l y " £ p . l 8 j ) . H i s aloneness, which he has chosen v o l u n t a r i l y by now, w i l l be i n the company of p l a n t s . L i k e B i r k i n who f l e d from Hermione's p a r t y t o be i n the com-pany of t r e e s and g r a s s , The Man Who Died c o n s i d e r s t h a t the "green j e t s of l e a v e s " and " b r i g h t , t r a n s l u c e n t , green blood" of the f i g t r e e (p. 19) w i l l p r o v i d e him with a s u i t a b l e environment. He s a i d to himself* "I w i l l wander the earth and say n o t h i n g . For n o t h i n g i s so marvellous as to be alone i n the phenomenal world, which i s r a g i n g , and y e t a p a r t . . . . Now I w i l l wander among the s t i r r i n g o f the phenomenal world, f o r i t i s the s t i r r i n g o f a l l t h i n g s among themselves which l e a v e s me p u r e l y alone," •.(p.19) What he wants i s companionship of: some k i n d , without any kind o f i n t e r c o u r s e . P a r t One ends here, with the Man recovered from death, but not y e t come back i n t o s o c i e t y , choosing "phen-omenal" t h i n g s f o r company, because human s o c i e t y would probably " l a y a compulsion" on him (p.22) and " v i o l a t e h i s i n t r i n s i c s o l i t u d e . " In P a r t Two, the Man e n t e r s h i s next stage of growth, what I have called; "a world i n which there i s a 148 s p e c i a l group o f people who are l i k e s p e c i a l f l o w e r s , and with whom he hopes he can r e l a t e . " The woman of I s i s ap-pears l i k e a flower, "alone," and " i n her yel l o w robe" ( p . 2 3 ) . Her i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the n a r c i s s u s i s made e x p l i c i t t She i s "yellow and white and alone l i k e a w i n t e r n a r c i s s u s " (p.24). Her temple, l i k e w i s e , stands alone "pink and white, l i k e a flo w e r i n the l i t t l e c l e a r i n g " ( p . 2 5 ) . Having j u s t witnessed a " v i o l a t i o n o f i n t r i n s i c s o l i t u d e " — t h e rape of the s l a v e m a i d e n—the Man, we might expect, would leave t h i s p l a c e . But he doesn't because the terms i n which he has p e r c e i v e d the woman and her temple ( i . e . the flow e r images j u s t quoted) are a t t r a c t i v e to him. When she asks him why he's ther e , he t e l l s her e x p l i c i t l y i "I saw the temple l i k e a pa l e flower . , ." (p.28). She meanwhile has an idiom o f p e r c e p t i o n completely compatible with his« She t h i n k s o f h e r s e l f as a flower, a l o t u s blossom ( p . 2 5 ) who i s w a i t i n g f o r the r i g h t man to come " l i k e the v i o l e t " ( p * 2 7 ) and make lov e to her, o r , " c a r e s s " her so t h a t she "opens with an expansion such as no other f l o w e r knows." The growth o f t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p from t h i s p o i n t i s cha r t e d i n v a r i a t i o n s o f the p l a n t ( f l o w e r ) m o t i f . She q u i c k l y i n c l i n e s to him, "her face open l i k e a flo w e r " ( p . 3 2 ) . He r e s i s t s her touch, but then r e a l i s e s i t i s a good touch, a f l o w e r l i k e touch. ("Yet t h i s g i r l of I s i s i s a tender 149 flame of healing. . . . The flame of this tender g i r l ! Like the f i r s t pale crocus of the spring. How could I have been blind," he asks himself, "to the healing and the blis s in the crocus-like body of a tender woman J'Tp .33J) a flowerlike woman, becomes totally integrated with a flowerlike world. She chafes his wounds, and her healing touch is expressed f l o r a l l y : "This scar i s the eye of the violet" (p.40). He perceives his lovemaking with her as "deep, interfbided warmth, warmth li v i n g and penetrable, the woman, the heart of the rose ! 'My mansion is the in-tricate warm rose, my joy i s this blossom*" (p.43). After lovemaking he sees her close up as a flower does when the sun has gone down: "brooding like the lotus softly shutting again . • . her own petals were a sheath to her" (p.43). At last he stands enraptured under the stars and applies the f l o r a l vocabulary which he has developed out of his ex-perience with her, to the world at large j he expresses a reeling sense of total integration with the world in a thick boquet of f l o r a l images: "How f u l l of curves and folds like an invis-ible rose of dark-petalled openness that shows where the dew touches i t s darkness! How f u l l i t i s , and great beyond a l l gods. How i t leans around me, and I am part of i t , the great rose of Space. I am a grain of i t s perfume, and the woman is a grain of i t s beauty. Now the world is one flower of many petalled 150 darknesses, and I am in i t s perfume, as in a touch." (p.44) Notice how the transferral of the rose image from the woman to Space conveys the fact that his integration with the world is simply an extension or result of his union with her. Even the fi n a l movement of the story (which I haven't defined as a stage of growth in the man—it's more like a coda—) is narrated in terms of the plant motifi "The time of the narcissus was past . . . the perfume of beanfield was in the air" (p.44). The narcissus, we re-c a l l was the f l o r a l symbol of her solitude; the smell of the beanfield suggest fruition. And indeed, we learn next that she is pregnant (—thus the motif suggests her integration in the natural world, as well as his). He even intuited her pregnancy in a vegetative metaphors "Thou art like a tree whose green leaves follow the blos-soms, f u l l of sap" (p.45). He departs like a perennial flower ("I shall come again, sure as Spring"£p.46j), and his memory of her is f l o r a l to the lasts "I carry her perfume in my flesh like essence of roses" (p.47). The plant motif then, like the several other motifs in this novel i s not just some sort of symbolical "poetic" overlay on the narrative style. It i s a functional 151 p a r t of the t e x t u r e of n a r r a t i o n ; and a reader who exper-ie n c e s the m o t i f s with the kind of d e t a i l e d s e n s i t i v i t y I am here recommending, ends up w i t h an awareness of the s t o r y t h a t goe:s something l i k e t h i s s "The Man Who Died emerges from the n a u s e a t i n g d e a t h l e s s greenery of sheer e x i s t e n c e i n the l e s s e r day, and l e a r n s to come f o r t h ; he c u l t i v a t e s h i s s o l i t u d e l i k e a r a r e bloom, p a t i e n t l y w a i t -i n g u n t i l he meets another f l o w e r l i k e s o u l and body; t h e i r time t o g e t h e r i s l i k e the s e n s u a l experience of n e s t l i n g i n the h e a r t of a g i a n t rose; and then, a t the proper time, they part.,, and go on l i v i n g the proud b o l d l i v e s v O f the g r e a t e r day." T h i s l a s t phrase b r i n g s me to c o n s i d e r the se-cond type o f motif, the p u r e l y a b s t r a c t , as e x e m p l i f i e d i n the terms " g r e a t e r day" and " l e s s e r day". The terms them-s e l v e s are the Man's, and they grow s l o w l y and n a t u r a l l y i n h i s consciousness, as a r e s u l t of h i s experience with the peasants, Madeleine and the cock. The f a c t t h a t he does develop the terms, as a way of making moral judgments, shows t h a t h i s p r o g r e s s takes p l a c e a t y e t another l e v e l o f p e r s o n a l i t y , making three so far« gi A p r o g r e s s of m o t i v a t i o n , as rendered by the p h y s i c a l rhythm of the nar-r a t i v e , ht A p r o g r e s s of developmental e x p e r i e n c e s , as rendered ( p a r t l y ) by the p l a n t m o t i f . ci A p r o g r e s s of i n t e l l e c t u a l self-awareness and s e l f d e t e r m i n a t i o n , as 152 rendered by the accession into his vocabulary of such terms of discrimination as "the greater day," or "compulsion," etc. This l a s t process of growth can e a s i l y be seen i n actual l i f e i n the way i n which people from early childhood onwards pick up new terms and test t h e i r application to themselves or others ("Am I a snob?" "Is Jack bourgeois?" "She has no panache." etc.) The three types of progress possibly correspond to conventional d i v i s i o n s of person-a l i t y , such as body, soul and mind, or possibly not. My point i s that the m u l t i p l i c i t y of narrative techniques— the d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s i n the texture of n a r r a t i o n — a l l o w s Lawrence to render his v i s i o n with a complexity and so-p h i s t i c a t i o n somewhat corresponding to the complexity and sophistication of human l i f e experience. The development of the Man's awareness of the greater and lesser days i s a slow process, beginning a f t e r he emerges from the tomb and sees the s o l d i e r s l y i n g there. He i s repulsed by t h e i r " i n e r t , heap-like bodies . . . a slow squalor of limbs" ( p . 6 ) . Further repulsions follow. He sees the peasants as "limited, meagre i n t h e i r l i f e , without any gesture of splendour and of courage" (p.9). But soon, he notices a contrast between the peasants and the cocki "Even as much flaminess as that of the young cock, which he had tied by the leg, would never glow i n 153 [the peasantj." Shortly, he begins to associate the word " l i t t l e " with the l i f e the peasants lead* " . . . her l i t t l e soul was hard. . . . her body had i t s l i t t l e greed. . . . the l i t t l e , personal body, the l i t t l e per-sonal l i f e of this woman" (p.1 6 ) . At once this associa-tion gives rise to an opposite term, "greater." "The body, too, has i t s l i t t l e l i f e , and beyond that, the greater l i f e . " Then, for a while, he drops the terms, and his consciousness wrestles with others ("compulsion," "en-tanglements," "allurements" j~pp. 18-22J), though we are told that before this "he was absorbed, thinking of the greater l i f e of the body, beyond the l i t t l e , narrow, personal l i f e " (p.1 7 ) . By early in Part Two, his thinking has progressed to the point of recognising that there is an absolute separation between, on the one hand "the l i f e of the l i t t l e people and the l i t t l e day," and on the other, "the other l i f e , the greater day of the human consciousness" (p . 3 1)i and he realises that he once did live in the l i t t l e day, but that he has returned "reborn . . . in the other l i f e , the greater day." And he feels his alienation from the l i t t l e day to be a d i f f i c u l t y that he has not yet learned to live with 1 "Not yet had he accepted the irrevocable noli me tangere which separates the reborn from the vulgar" (p.3 1 ) . His involvement with the Woman of Isis however 154 gives-him the strength to live with that d i f f i c u l t y . Thus, at the end, when he sees that "the l i t t l e l i f e of jealousy and property was resuming sway again" (p.45) in the person of the Woman's mother, he makes an untroubled decision to leave and be "alone with his destiny." This attitude stands in clear contrast to the same kind of decision at the end of Part One—where he decides to be alone because he can't stand "entanglements," and is nauseated about i t . The difference between the earlier anguished attitude and this later easy one is precisely the strength found in the re-lationship with the Woman. For she is part of the greater day. So, in leaving, he realises he w i l l be "yet not a-lone, for the touch would be upon him" (p.45). Clearly the two "days" symbolize opposing poles in an e l i t i s t social vision. Yet the values inherent in each pole are never entirely clear, except insofar as the nature of relationships is concerned. People of the less-er day relate to one another greedily, acquisitively, in fear. The Man sees this with ever clearer vision in Mad-eleine, the peasants, the slaves and the Woman's mother; in fact i t ' s because of this aspect of people of the lesser day that he leaves: ("Not twice! They shall not now pro-fane^ the-- touch in me "[p . 4 5 J ) . By contrast, people of the greater day are "not greedy to give, not greedy to take" 155 (pp.16 - 1 7 ) . The Man r e j e c t s h i s own mother because he sees her " c l u t c h i n g " f o r him (p.18), and by c o n t r a s t , h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p with the Woman of I s i s i s one of g e n t l e "touching" f o l l o w e d by a "tender hanging back" (p.45). He deci d e s not even to ask the woman her name, and she i n t u r n i s content to know him only as " O s i r i s " (p.44). So we see th a t the e t h i c o f r e l a t i o n s h i p which the Man develops i s a non-possessive one; the goa l i s a se l f - c o n t a i n m e n t which i s open to c e r t a i n s e l e c t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p s as c e r t a i n f l o w e r s are s a i d to be res p o n s i v e only to the " i n v i s i b l e sun" ( p . 2 7 ) . Yet while remaining open to these r a r e r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the Man i s not a f r a i d to be alone a g a i n . " A l l i s good between us, near or a p a r t , " he t e l l s the Woman befo r e l e a v i n g (p.46). And she does not d e t a i n him, f o r "even she wanted the c o o l -ness o f her own a i r around her." C e r t a i n l y the two "days" can be seen as ambivalent. The g r e a t e r day c o n s t i t u t e s a d i f f e r e n t world from the l e s s e r day, and i s t h e r e f o r e per-haps i l l u s o r y , a r e t r e a t from r e a l l i f e . But such a thought i s the reader;'s, not the Man's; he, a f t e r a l l , rows o f f l a u g h i n g . F i n a l l y a note on the "rhythm" aspect of the thought rhythms, i n case t h i s i s not c l e a r from the p r e -cedihgg a n a l y s i s . The process o f understanding i n the Man's consciousness i s not a s t r a i g h t - l i n e development. The 156 motifs which render the progress tend to cluster in parts of the text, then thin out, then recur in variations. This creates a wavelike effect of growing, spasmodic conscious-ness. This i s clearly visible in the operation of the two motifs just dealt with. In the case of the plant motif, the Man early perceives a distinction between the dull greenery and the more vivid configurations of colour and energy, such as the cock on the branch, the scarlet anem-one, and the general multitude of "things that come forth" (p.10). Then, as his consciousness becomes more precisely discriminating, he focuses on particular flowers, the nar-cissus, the lotus, the rose—then back again to the nar-cissus, and the lotus (p.44), Likewise his development of the distinction of the two "days" grows in pulses, beginning with the "slow squalor of limbs" of the tomb guards (p.6) and culminating some thirty pages later in the insistent use of the terms "greater and lesser day." As I said at the start, the rhythmic spasms of motivation and the waves of developing consciousness complement one another. Together the various strands make up a multi-level mimesis of the rhythms of the l i f e experience. Thus the texture of the prose concretely and complexly renders Lawrence's vision of l i f e in the book. 157 In separating out the two idioms of narrative and calling them "physical rhythms" and "mental rhythms" I do not intend to add gratuitously to the dowdy lexicon of c r i t i c s ' jargon. What I'm talking about in my analysis is simply two levels of perception in the man, the one sensory and emotional, the other more purely cerebral; or, simply, how he feels and what he thinks. Yet my main pur-pose has been to focus on rhythmic movement as the main form which reality takes in this book, as the Man progresses in the growth of his new self. The rhythmic manner i s com-mon to both types of his perception, and is infacS the core of the unusual vision of l i f e which Lawrence offers here. The Man Who Died i s a triumphant affirmation of l i f e in the experiential, phenomenal w o r l d — l i f e envisioned as the perpetual rise and f a l l of tidelike energy, seeking to throw off the dross of the l i t t l e day, seeking to enter the l i f e of the greater day, more and more fu l l y , more and more ful l y . . . . FOOTNOTES 158 1 D. H. Lawrence, p. 33. 2 Unless of course one reads the story as simply an a n t i - C h r i s t i a n t r a c t — n o t an approach I would have expected i n any reader, but have been surprised at the number of students who adopt i t . George H. Ford, Double Measures A Study of the Novels and Stories of D. H. Lawrence (New York1 Rinehart, 1965), PP» 16, 104, sees the story as ce n t r a l i n the Lawrence canon. 3 I t ' s i n t e r e s t i n g to notice a p a r a l l e l (and perhaps a source) to the a r t i s t i c method used here of d i s t o r t i n g a f a m i l i a r , model form. In "The C r u c i f i x Across the Mount-ains," Lawrence reveals h i s f a s c i n a t i o n with the way i n which a r t i s t i c carvers can use the crosses which they carve as vehicles of self-expression. See esp. the passage beginning "There i s a strange c l e a r beauty of form . . . " through the paragraph " I t i s p l a i n i n the c r u c i f i x e s . . . ," Twilight i n I t a l y (1916: r p t . Londoni Heinemann, 1950), pp. 8-12, The mannered treatment of c r u c i f i x e s by the carvers p a r a l l e l s Lawrence's mannered treatment of the gospel story i n The Man Who Died. For further discussion see Nin, p. 33. 4 E. g.i "One must come to t r e a t the second part of the story as the kind of exaggerated and i n s i s t e n t exegesis of p h a l l i c communion which, to say the l e a s t , does not achieve unqualified success." G. A. Panichas, Adventure  i n Consciousness! The Meaning of D. H. Lawrence's Religious  Quest (The Hague1 Mouton), p. 132. 5 Kingsley Widmer, The Art of Perversity (Seattle! U. of Washington Press, 1962), T. H. McCabe, "Rhythm i n D. H. Lawrence's Short Stories," DA, 29 (1968), 609-610A, and Nahal. ^ I r e f e r any reader interested i n pursuing t h i s point to a c l a s s i c example of d i s t r a c t i n g c r i t i c i s m s L. V. Le Doux, "Christ and Isiss The Function of the Dying and Reviving God i n D. H. Lawrence's The Man Who Died." D. H. Lawrence Review. 2 (Summer 1972), 1 3 2-148.CCf. Susan Sontags "Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry,which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of a r t today poisons our s e n s i b i l i t i e s . " Against Interpretation TNew Yorks Farrar, 1966J, p. 7.) See also Hough pp. 250-253 f o r a t y p i c a l c r i t i q u e structured almost e n t i r e l y on preconceptions applied to the novel. 159 ' D. H. Lawrence, The Man Who Died (1928) r p t , i n The Short Novels of D. H. Lawrence. II (Londoni Heinemann "Phoenix'* ed., 1956). Subsequent page references to t h i s e d i t i o n are incorporated i n the text, and where several quotations from the same page occur i n close proximity, only the f i r s t i s given page c i t a t i o n . Q Ana'is Nin c a l l s the technique " enchalhement.* Nin, p. 6 1 . Q With two exceptions f o r modern readersi The crude l i n e , "I am r i s e n ! " (p.43) and the now unfortunately ambiguous term " p l a s t i c " (p.44) . 1 0 Similar rhythmic expression of s i m i l a r v i s i o n occurs elsewhere i n Lawrence. See esp. the poem cycle "New Heaven and New Earth," Selected Poems of D. H. Law- rence (1959; r p t . New York* Viking Compass Book, 1969)» pp« 75-81, and the essay "Resurrection," and the novel fragment "Flying F i s h , " both i n Phoenix. CHAPTER FIVE AS I LAY DYING- THE PUZZLE OFVIDEOLOGUES AND MOTIFS "But the truth, I would like to think, comes out, that when the reader has read a l l these thir-teen ways of looking at the black-bird, the reader has his own fourteenth image of that blackbird which I would like to think is the truth." -Wm. Faulkner 1 To read As I Lay Dying is to engage in a sort of puzzle game, the rules of which are not clear u n t i l one i s well into the reading. Faulkner creates immediate confu-sion for the reader by thrusting him without preliminaries into an intensely imagistic monologue—a videologue—which is practically opaque, but which, for the reader willing to persevere, becomes in time transparent in the sense that one can begin to discover, through the videologue, what i s going on. Here again is a novel—perhaps the prime example— which f i t s my concept of the dynamic of vision. An uneasy tension develops in the reader between his normal expecta-tion ("once upon a time there was a man named Anse Bundren who had four sons and a daughter, and his wife lay seriously i l l . . .") and the startling novelty which the author 161 provides Crewel and I come up from the f i e l d , following the path in single f i l e . . . " ) . Even the t i t l e heading ( " D A R L " ) and the opening word ("Jewel") are ambiguous, not immediately recognizable as names of people. So one begins in great confusion, struggling to find some handhold or principle of unity or point of view, to assist in making sense of what one i s reading. Faulkner withholds such aid. There i s no conventional narrator, no frame of reference, no immediately apparent principle of unity ("Who am I that am Lyirig5dyJ^ng?"itheimystif iedrea&er asks again and again, as he turns the pages.) The literary process i s probably unique in the history of the novel—even Ulysses, for instance, involves a much more gradual immersion into monologue tex-tures—and s t i l l today, in 1973» i t ' s startling to new read-ers, in my experience. In this chapter I shall describe the game that Faulkner i s playing with his readers, and then examine the texture of the novel in order to illustrate the values that emerge from reading the book on i t s own terms. But f i r s t a comment on c r i t i c s . A review of published criticism shows two kinds of reaction from academic readers, both consistent with my thesis: 2 One group does not confront the novel directly, on i t s own terms, but instead imports to the text external 162 structures which help to place i t in a familiar frame of reference. For example, such c r i t i c s have wrestled valiant-ly with the problem of defining the narrator of this novel. It seems that fi c t i v e convention demands that we know who is t e l l i n g the story.3 Others of this group, simply ignor-ing the mannered strangeness of the novel's format and con-tents, proceed to study i t s plot as myth or archetype.^ Then there's a second group of c r i t i c s who do in fact ex-amine the strange texture of the novel. More than the other two novelists of vision whom I'm examining, Faulkner has been fortunate in attracting a good number of c r i t i c s who dig deep into his work to make sense of the vision. A notable example is Waggoner, whose chapter on As I Lav Dying fo-cuses on "one image pattern . . . the s t y l i s t i c key to the vision that shapes the novel."5 These two kinds of c r i t i c a l attention represent two different reactions to the dynamic exerted by the novel. The f i r s t is an attempt to subject the novel to a "taming" process involving comparison or induction into some asserted tradition; this amounts to an evasion or rejection of the dynamic. The second is an attempt to confront the extra-ordinary performance of this novel on i t s own terms; this amounts to an acceptance of and engagement in the dynamic. My own treatment, which follows, is of course an attempt of the second kind. 1 6 3 i THE PUZZLE OF VIDEOLOGUES There is some external evidence for my thesis that Faulkner i s playing a sort of game with his readers, to be found in the author's campus conversations, collected in Faulkner in the University.^ Unfortunately, the taped conversation specifically concentrating on this novel was lost, and is not otherwise recorded. However, in several of the other interviews, in answer to questions about As  I Lav Dying, the novelist often uses the words "trick" and "tour de force." Asked i f the thirteen characters of the novel—there are actually fifteen—oonstitutedta single mind of a man, for instance, Faulkner replied* "No. They were— I was writing about people again, and—that's a simple tour  de force . . . simple tour de force. That was written in six weeks without changing a word because I knew from the f i r s t where that was going."' Asked to explain the strange fact that Darl i s able to "give such a detailed description of his mother's death while he is out cutting wood some place else," Faulkner replied? " . . . c a l l i t a change of pace. A trick, but since the whole book was a tour de force, I think that i s a permissible t r i c k . " 8 In these answers, suspect though they may be in coming from the writer, I draw attention to the admission of posturing or play implicit in 164 the two terms quoted, and also to his claim to have known where the novel was going before he started. This evidence suggests that the novel was conceived as indeed I for one experience it« as a game or a puzzle, a tangle deliberately created to be unravelled by the reader. It's as though the writer conceived his story clearly at f i r s t , then wrote i t down'in a way deliberately designed to obscure the story by calling attention to the trick of writing. "It i s a per-sistent offering of obstacles, a calculated system of screens and obtrusions, of confusions and ambiguous inter-polations and delays."9 What the writer intended is not, of course, a re-liable guide to what the reader experiences. Yet in this case my own experience suggests that there is a similarity between intention and effect. When I f i r s t read this book I f e l t I was being imposed upon by the factitious d i f f i c u l t y of texture, and made a note in my journal at the time which evidences my reluctance to play the game which the novel seemed to demand of me« "After beginning this book of Faulkner's I begin to think that a story or novel must make concessions to the reader in i t s opening pages. It's so loaded with significance from the f i r s t paragraph on that I feel I'm being imposed upon, not offered a g i f t . It seems to me that a writer ought to get straight into his 165 story in the f i r s t pages as simply and directly as possible. If I were writing this book I would feel that f i r s t I must allow my reader to arrive in the world of my novel, and then offer him places to go and things to see from different positions. I ought not to start rushing him around the house and showing him my pictures before I've taken his coat and sat him down so he can just look around him a b i t and see what's goingjon here. Even cathedrals have their en-trances." This evidence—Faulkner's conversation and my own journal entry—may seem slight or even inadmissible in the logic of literary proof? but I suggest that they point d i -rectly to what's really going on when somebody reads As I Lav Dying, when the dynamic of vision is operating ful l e s t , 1 o not sapped by subsequent reflection. Faulkner i s per-forming his tour de force, his tricks. And the reader re-sists him, saying* "What's this a l l about? What the hell's going on here?" Such is the beginning of the tension bui l t into the dynamic. What i s really going on is that the nov-e l i s t of vision is implicitly saying. "Come into this world, jump right in, and you'll have an interesting time—oh, and by the way, I'm not going to help you very much? you have to do the entering here, or else i t w i l l not seem as truly strange for you to be here as i t truly i s . " Then the reader, 166 beginning in the attitude of "the h e l l with you, give me something easy, something I can recognise," proceeds either to cast the book away, or to carry on reading and submit to the strangeness in faith. Given the act of faith, the question i s , how does i t pay off in new awareness or imaginative u p l i f t , or what-ever? The answer l i e s mostly in the sheer intensity of the vision which we are forced to realize i f we are to succeed at a l l in making sense of the narrative puzzle. Faulkner does not provide us with immediately coherent monologues as Browning does. Nor is this a novel of ideas, in which the characters represent philosophic viewpoints (though there is such an element;in this book, centered in the ADDIE mono-logue). The payoff comes through the depth of knowledge of human beings; attained by the reader precisely because the superficial texture i s so obscure. To read the book, we are forced into a technical process of deep identification, of becoming temporarily the people behind the videologues. Beyond the value of those:individual identifica-tions, there is another composite reward for the reader, implied in the quoted epigraph to this chapter. The words quoted are a reference of Faulkner's to Absalom, Absalom I, but they are appropriate also to this novel, because the multiplicity of ways of looking at a blackbird i s a con-cept directly comparable to the multiplicity of monologues 16? (videologues) in As I Lav Dying. The statement is an ex-cellent definition of the value in terms of vision, pro-vided by this novel. I.e., not only does one come to enter the inner reality of each of the characters whose video-logues one reads, but the overall experience produces an overall vision of the human condition ("the fourteenth image of the blackbird which I would like to think is the truth"). There are certain motifs, as I shall show, which help to link together the separate videologues into one luminous whole. (And I shall try to show in the next chap-ter a similar nexus of experiences in the reading of Absalom. Absalom I) .,• I should explain my term "videologue." I hold no special brief for the words i t ' s just a way of under-lining the fact that image, sight, seeing things with the eyes or the "inner" eyes of the clairvoyant mind, is the predominant idiom of experience of a l l of the major char-acters in this book—greater with some, lesser with others, but predominant with a l l . The d i f f i c u l t y of piecing out the puzzle of what is going on has the curious effect of causing the reader to be at least as much aware of and interested in the char-acters observing, as he i s in the events observed. (Sim-i l a r l y Stevens' thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird t e l l us more about the states of mind of the looker(s) than they 168 do about blackbirds.) Thus, for example, a reader i s able to notice how Cash develops emotionally and intellectually during the time span of: the novel* Of his five videologues the f i r s t three consist of mechanical considerations about the making and transportation of the coffin, while the last two—both relatively long, and both near the end of the book—reveal a sympathy and understanding for Darl which we might never have suspected earlier. The f i r s t two videologues (DARL and CORA) shift the reader through surprisingly antithetical perspectives. Darl is precise, accurate, amoral, in the record he makes of the perceptions he has. The only value judgment he makes in this section is that Cash is a "good carpenter." Addie Bundren would not want a better one, a better box to l i e in" (p.4). 1 1 For the rest he i s meticulous about shapes, numbers, distances, directions, and the reasons for things. He has the eye-of a camera and the mind ofa.logician, at this point in the story. He notes that the path's right angles around the cotton house are "soft right angles," that i t is from a "willow" branch that Jewel takes the gourd to drink, that the boards of the coffin bear marks of the adze "in smooth undulations." And he accounts for the "brick-hard" texture of the paths It's the heat of July and the passage of feet. He notes that the reason for (or result of) Cash's careful carpentry is that "It w i l l give her confidence 169 and comfort." On the other hand, Cora is tangled up with super-f i c i a l moral complexities in her thinking about the eggs and the cakes, about the reason why God has placed Addie on her deathbed ("Maybe i t w i l l reveal her blindness to her,") and she observes only those things which help her to make/judgments about human manners and proprieties, such as "the g i r l ' s washing and ironing in the pillow-slip, i f ironed i t ever was," and Eula's coquettish touching of her hair as Darl passes. In subsequent CORA sections we find that the woman actually perceives "wrongly," quite misin-terpreting Darl*"s part and motives (for instance, in the wood-gathering incident) and quite wrong about Addie's i l -legitimate son ("A Bundren through and through") ( p . 2 l ) . She is "wrong" from somebody else's perspective, that is to say, not from her own« her view of things i s "true" for her. By placing the f i r s t DARL and CORA sections in juxtapostion at the start, Faulkner inducts the reader into the range of consciousness to be rendered in the videologues. The differences between the two sections i s immediately striking. If, thrown off byCbra"as apparent errors, we seize on Darl's videologues as the truest guide to reality in the 1 ? story (as one c r i t i c does* "What Darl sees is true" ), then 170 we are subject to the uncomfortable experience of moving ever deeper into a schizoid world and f i n a l l y being taken off to the asylum at Jackson. On the other hand, i f we subscribe to Cora's self-induced illusions, we have a stable point as she does, but with very ..limited and distorted v i s -ion. The same sort of impossible choice is proffered by each of the other characters. No single videologue is at-tractive enough to invite reader identification for very long. The differences between the characters become more clear as the videologues progress. But, whereas in the Lawrence novels studied there is a single, dominant vision informing the whole, in this book of Faulkner's there are several dominant and sub-dominant visions, so that the focus or major theme of the book is nothing less than "reality" i t s e l f — a reality with as many valid forms as there are perceivers, or perhaps we should say as many invalid forms. In The Plumed Serpent, as I have shown earlier, the positive and negative values embodied in the consciousnesses of the different characters are f a i r l y easy to choose between: the reader identifies with Kate mostly, and scarcely at a l l with, say, V i l l i e r s . In As I Lav Dying, the subjective planes are credible enough, but none of them is really desirable or attractive. To read the story can 171 become a rather disturbingly schizophrenic experience, as we oscillate back and forth from one flawed reality to an-other. Even objective events lose their consistency and credi b i l i t y to such a degree that the reader is thrown back from the events to the characters who perceive those events, and since the characters a l l occupy undesirable planes of reality, the ultimate effect i s that we are l e f t in our own ontological solitude. The quality of the ontological uncertainty can be gauged by comparing As I Lav Dying (in respect to the shifting planes of reality) with a work such as Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. In the Quartet, certain events (such as Justine's lovemaking with Darley) appear in di f -ferent lights in different volumes^ ,,, depending on the nar-rative point of view. Yet, when Durrell shifts us from one narrative to another, the resulting reevaluation of events is illuminating, not disturbing. At the end we know what happened, and we know that different characters experienced the happenings in different ways, according to their levels of knowledge or ignorance of the f u l l nature of the events. But in As I Lay Dying, we never do get a sense of the f u l l nature of the events; quite the contrary, we are l e f t puz-zled and confused. (We are l e f t with such unresolved ques-tions ass Did Dewey Dell t e l l Gillespie about the arson, or i s that just what Cash thinks? Was i t definitely Darl 172 who fired the barn? What did Addie die of? Was i t Anse who leaped on Darl at the end, or was i t Dewey Dell—who is right about this, Cash or Peabody?) Well then, i f the "reality" of the narrative i s so confusing, what continuum is i t in the story that en-gages the reader's attention sufficiently to keep him read-ing through the puzzle, rather than hurling the book away in frustration? My answer, suggested already, is that i t is the extremely powerful imagistic reality of each of the videologues. What we have in this novel, in effect, is not a unified vision of a number of characters moving through a plot, but several independent visions. My own approach to the novel is to experience each of the characters inter-nally and subjectively, in a largely disjunctive way; and this approach seems to me to be induced by the structure of the book. To confront this novel on i t s own terms is to confront f i r s t of a l l the inside of each character's head, each of them separate and different in a world which they only partly share. To become aware of the striking differences in the r e a l i t i e s of the characters takes a l i t t l e time, though Faulkner has helped us by placing the DARL and CORA sections in juxtaposition at the start. The second reading is easier. With familiarity, we come to recognise certain technical 173 means by which Faulkner makes us aware of the individual differences in the characters. Of these the most important is the sight motif. i i THE SIGHT MOTIF The sight motif pervades the novel very inten-sively, in different forms. F i r s t there are the actual eyes of the different characters, often described in strik-ingly unusual language. One thinks immediately of Jewel's eyes« "pale eyes like wood, set into his wooden face" (p.4), "eyes in which the glare swims like two small torches" (p.208), eyes, which according to Armstid, are capable of "blaring" (p.179), even as Dewey Dell's eyes are seen by T a i l as "kind of blaring up and going hard" (p.118). No sooner does the reader begin to notice these oddidescrip-tions, than they start coming at him from practically every page. The new Mrs. Bundren, according to Cash, has "kind of hard-looking pop eyes" (p.2^7), and we even discover at one point that a "horse's eyes r o l l with soft, fleet, wild opaline f i r e " (p.209). Tull says that Darl has "queer eyes. . . that makes folks talk" (p.118), and that Jewel's (again) are "like pieces of a broken plate" (p.120); Anse's eyes appear to Tu l l "like pieces of burnt-out cinder fixed in his face"'(p.30). And so on. Then again, apart from actual 174 descriptions of eyes, there are many references to vision. For instance, we find that Dewey Dell and Darl communicate through their eyes; they look at one another and talk "with-out the words" (p.2 6 ) . Darl senses that the mules have "already seen in the thick water the shape of the disaster which they could not speak and we could not see" (p. 1 3 9 ) . Cash and Darl "look at one another with long probing looks, looks that plunge unimpeded through one another's eyes and into the ultimate secret place" (p. 1 2 9 ) . And so on. The sight motif includes also those instances of clairvoyance whereby Darl describes in detail events he has not seen, principally the central event of the novel (Addie's death) and Jewel's savage contest with his horse which i s so vivid-ly presented (p.1 2 ) . Anse too has a certain clairvoyance or special vision enabling him to see the rain or "same as see i t with second-sight" (p.3 0 ) . What is the effect of the extraordinary concentra-tion on eyes and vision? F i r s t l y , I think that coming upon the extremely mannered images'.in many places ("driving his eyes at me like two hounds in a strange yard "[p. 1 6 2 ] ) , the reader becomes very aware of vision as an important feature of each character—i.e. one simply begins to notice eyes and sight a lot, even as one's own imaginative eyes are envis-ioning the vivid scenes Faulkner presents—and secondly, one's attention becomes increasingly occupied with the 175 m u l t i p l e p r o c e s s e s of p e r c e p t i o n and communication—£.e. one begins to observe the d e t a i l s of each c h a r a c t e r ' s men-t a l view o f t h i n g s . T h i r d l y , and a r i s i n g from the other two r e a c t i o n s , I t h i n k one soon s t a r t s to rank the char-a c t e r s on a s c a l e of s e n s i t i v e p e r c e p t i o n . On t h i s s c a l e , the q u a l i t y of the eye m o t i f s h e l p s , i n each o c c u r r e n c e , - t o f i x the c h a r a c t e r ' s l e v e l of awareness. For example, D a r l ' s p e r p e t u a l awareness t h a t Jewel's eyes are wooden and p a l e , seems to come to mean t h a t D a r l c o n s i d e r s Jewel shallow or perhaps i n s e n s i t i v e to the meaning of t h i n g s as he ( D a r l ) p e r c e i v e s them. The f a c t t h a t Dewey D e l l ' s eyes are "as b l a c k a p a i r of eyes as ever JjVioseleyJsaW;" (p. 1 8 9 ) , seems to stand i n i l l u m i n a t i n g c o n t r a s t to the p e r p e t u a l paleness of Jewel's eyes. The nature o f t h a t c o n t r a s t i s a subjec-t i v e matter f o r each reader I suppose, and y e t one can't help f e e l i n g t h a t the d i f f e r e n c e i n t h e i r eyes i n d i c a t e s t h a t Jewel and h i s s i s t e r have c o n t r a s t i n g a t t i t u d e s to l i f e , or p e r c e p t i o n s of " r e a l i t y . " Jewel with h i s "bone-white eyes" (Armstid, p . 1 7 8 ) "pale as two bleached c h i p s i n h i s f a c e " ( D a r l , p . 1 3 8 ) , i s a man of shallow understanding, perhaps, n o n - c e r e b r a l , o n l y dumbly aware of t h i n g s . The b l a c k n e s s of Dewey D e l l ' s eyes, on the other hand, perhaps suggests a depth o f understanding of human a f f a i r s , which her preg-nancy has f o r c e d upon her . Jewel's eyes only get a more 1?6 pleasant (?) epithet when they l i n k him with a horse: both the horse and Jewel are seen to have eyes l i k e mar-bles (pp.174,181), suggesting some s i m i l a r i t y between t h e i r forms of consciousness. And i f Jewel i s at one end of the scale of whatever kind of consciousness the eye motif renders, then of course Darl i s at the other. Darl's eyes are deep with hidden communication. Dewey D e l l c a l l s them "eyes gone further than the food and the lamp, f u l l of the land dug out of his s k u l l and the holes f i l l e d with d i s -tance beyond the land" (p.2 5 ) . Not to belabour the point, the eye motif s i g -n i f i e s — i n some occurrences very c l e a r l y , i n others rather obscurely--the q u a l i t y of l i f e i n the characters. T u l l sees that Anse's eyes are " l i k e pieces of burnt-out cinder fixed i n his face, looking out over the land" (p . 3 0 ) and this provides, I think, a marvelous imagistic d e t a i l of Anse's burnt-out energy and hopes. S i m i l a r l y , i n Addie's l a s t hours, her state of consciousness i s s i g n i f i e d by the eyes: Peabody sees her eyes to be a l l that's s t i l l moving: " I t ' s l i k e they touch us, not with sight or sense, but l i k e the stream from a hose touches you, the stream at the instant of impact as dissociated from the nozzle as though i t had never been there" (p.4 3 ) , a b r i l l i a n t .and delicate rendering of Addie's detachment from him and the rest of the world; as she dies, she drives the stranger, 177 Peabody, from the room, to be alone with her kin, using her eyes to "shove at" him (p.44), Darl, imagining her death, sees her last flare of strength in an eye image* "Her eyes, the l i f e in them, rushing suddenly upon them; the two flames glare up for a steady instant. Then they go out as though someone had leaned down and blown upon them" (p.47). We are l e f t , I think, with a sense of Addie principally and primarily as a consciousness, not primarily as the baker of cakes or the bearer of children or any of the other female sterotypes which she also f i l l s . The focus onp.consciousness is achieved not;conceptually, but imagistically, very visually, by the numinous motif of eyes/candles here seen. So far so goods The reader progressing through the text, notices the recurrence of the motif of sight, and begins to form judgments about the qualities of each of the characters' consciousnesses. Now arises a complication. How do we deal with the realisation that a l l these percep-tions of characters are retailed through the eyes of par-ticular characters themselves? For instance, as I have quoted above, Peabody observes the dying Addie "shove at" him with her eyes. This, taken in conjunction with Darl's (and other people's) perceptions of Addie*s eyes, conveys the tremendous h o s t i l i t y in her consciousness. But what 178 does i t reveal about Peabody? This question shows im-mediately that the motif operates with a double edge, and we now begin to reassess the videologues in terms of what they show about the perceiver, not just the perceived. Eventually, as I've suggested earlier, this level of mean-ing becomes dominant.in the narrative (just as the t h i r -teen ways of looking at the blackbird t e l l more about the lookers than about the blackbird.) I've mentioned already the progress evident in Cash, from consciousness of prac-t i c a l details of the coffin to an awareness of Darl's po-sition and a sympathy for i t . Indeed, Cash even becomes aware at the end of Darl's capacity for clairvoyance ("It was just like he knowed, like he could see through the walls and into the next ten minutes" £p.226j). Such progress in awareness seems to suggest that Cash now takes over 'the position as the most' conscious survivor in the family group (Vardaman being too young at this point to appreciate much of what he sees, though his capacity for vision is evidently extremely great, so much so that one suspects that he w i l l in time be following Darl to the asylum). As with Cash, so with Darl: the retrospective functioning of the percep-tions in Darl's videologues shows him to be losing his hold on any manageable reality: Macbeth-like hallucinations i n -vade his consciousness towards the end (especially: "In the sand the wheels whisper, as though the very earth would hush 17? our entry" [p . 2 1 9 ] ) .-^ He withdraws to the world of private perception, t i l l in his last videologue Darl's conscious-ness splits off from his body in both time and space as he begins, "Darl has gone to Jackson" (p.2 ^ 3 ) . The motif of sight is an interesting and, to my mind, rather successful technique for the rendering of con-sciousness. Its subtle variations of symbolic meaning derive in part from the complex concept of "sight" in the English language. I2* We say "I see," for any one of a dozen or more meanings—even my small desk dictionary gives f i f -teen. In this novel the motif of sight has a similar range of symbolic potential, to express states of cognition, car-pacities of awareness, in general the quality of conscious-ness, as I've shown briefly above. Once a reader appre-ciates the pervasiveness and mode of operation of the motif, the whole reading experience of the book becomes at once a good deal clearer and more illuminating. From this single strand in the narrative texture alone, i t is possible to know quite a lot about the qualities of each of the charac-ters, as I've illustrated. Secondly, as the reader exper-iences the different and sometimes conflicting perspectives which the videologues offer onto the events of the plot, he becomes increasingly aware of the r e l a t i v i t y and subjectivity of each person's sight, including f i n a l l y his own. 180 i i i THE MOTIF OF TRAVEL A second major technique by which Faulkner re veals the qualities and different identities of the char-acters is the motif of travel or motion. This motif also recurs in many forms, ranging from Anse's tree-like stasis and his meditation on the pernicious effects of roads ("keeping the folks restless and wanting to get up and go somewheres else when He aimed for them to stay put like a tree or a stand of corn" [p.35j)» to Cora's religious af-firmation that she is ""bounding toward [herl God and [her] reward" (p.86) as she rides home from the funeral; to Darl's sisyphean image of the absurdity of motion in l i f e ("That's why you must walk up the h i l l s , so you can ride down again" £ p . 2 1 7 j ) , and so on. This motif is rather less obvious in the text than the motif of sight, but is no less illuminating once recognised. The most complex and symbolically significant appearance of the motif i s , of course, the burial journey i t s e l f . The fact that a l l members of the family take i t , despite several separate reasons for not doing so, renders the overwhelming power of unity in the family. Their at-titudes to travel in general, and the attitudes each holds or develops towards the t r i p , reveal their separate 181 identities linked together in this communal purpose. For Darl, the journey seems early on to be pointless, "unin-ferant of progress, as though time and not space were de-creasing" (p.101) and ultimately to be absurd, as noted above. Indeed the very motion of the wagon seems to him to be mirrored in i t s uselessness by the motion of the circle of vultures in the sky* "An outward semblance of form and purpose, but with no inference of motion, progres or retrograde" (p.216). And yet, for a l l i t s absurdity, Darl never thinks of not making the journey with the fam-i l y . It's a pointless t r i p , and he tries to end i t for a l l of them by burning the coffin en route, but he never contemplates privately quitting. This fact not only be-speaks the strength of the family ties that operate even in him, but also makes Darl's discarding by the family at the end a l l the more poignant. Of a l l of them he most clearly saw the stupidity of travelling, yet he went along His loyalty to the communal purpose brought on increased insanity, and ultimate rejection by the very community to which he unquestioningly committed himself. It's worth noting how at least two people notice and react tDj portions of Darl's attitude to the journeyy In the DARL section just quoted, Darl f i r s t articulates hi f u l l sense of the absurdity of a motion "uninferant of 182 progress." On a second or third reading, this articulation of absurdity suddenly explains a factor in Anse's perception in the preceding section, which may have mystified or passed us by at f i r s t reading. In that previous section, Anse mentions five times in the space of a page that Darl is laughing. The time is the moment of entry into Tull's lane, and a quick check of the DARL section shows that this is also the exact time at which Darl expresses his sense of the absurd. The combined evidence of the two sections thus t e l l s the reader why Darl is laughing. But Anse makes no attempt to discover why Darl i s laughing; he simply com-plains- "How many times I told him i t ' s doing such things as that that makes folks talk about him" (p.99). Thus the motif of travel here serves most subtly as an indicator of Darl's alienation from his father and from the society ("folks") because of his particular brand of perception. The same alienation i s revealed, too, by the second person's reaction to Darl's attitude to the journey, namely Cash's. But this time the alienation from society i s partly (though perhaps ironically) balanced by evidence of a grow-ing unity between himself and Cash. Near the end, Cash re-flects in his practical way that Darl's attempt to put an end to the journey was a proper act, and something he him-self might well have undertaken. Cash's reasons for wanting 183 to end the absurd t r i p are not g i v e n , and must be deduced i f a t a l l from s l i g h t h i n t s such as the judgment "he done r i g h t i n a way," or Gash's expressed wish to "get shut o f her i n some c l e a n way" ( p . 2 2 3 ) . Whatever h i s reasons, Cash at l e a s t p e r c e i v e d a s i m i l a r i t y o f i n t e n t i o n between him-s e l f and D a r l , and i n d i s c o v e r i n g t h i s he d i s c o v e r s a con-s i d e r a b l e empathy f o r Darl5 t h i s mood of empathy l e a d s him to a ( f o r him) extremely s o p h i s t i c a t e d d e f i n i t i o n o f i n s a n i t y i Sometimes I t h i n k i t a i n t none of us pure c r a z y and a i n t none of us pure sane u n t i l the balance of us t a l k s him that-a-way. I t ' s l i k e i t a i n t so much what a f e l l o w -,does, but i t ' s the way the m a j o r i t y of f o l k s i s l o o k i n g a t him when he does i t . (p.2 2 3 ) Thus Faulkner uses the a t t i t u d e s of the two e l d e s t b r o t h e r s to the journey as a means of r e v e a l i n g the r e l a t i o n s h i p between them (a growing t o l e r a n c e and empathy on Cash's p a r t ) , and a l s o as a means of r e - e v o k i n g the theme of r e l -a t i v i t y c a r r i e d i n the d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e s o f the d i f -f e r e n t v i d e o l o g u e s . For Cash p e r c e i v e s t h a t being c r a z y i s a r e l a t i v e c o n d i t i o n , a s o c i a l m i n o r i t y s t a t u s j "He can't see eye to eye with other f o l k s " ( p . 2 2 3 ) . Jewel's a t t i t u d e to the journey i s extremely r e v e a l i n g , both about h i m s e l f and about the f a m i l y . T,o s t a r t with J e w e l a s s e r t s h i s half-member s t a t u s i n the f a m i l y by g o i n g along with them, but on h i s own horse. Thus he p r e s e r v e s h i s independence and separate i d e n t i t y , 184 as we might think of a contemporary teenager taking a h o l i -day trip with his family, but insisting that he ride his own motorcycle while the rest of the family travels to-gether in the family camper-truck. Yet the strange thing is that Jewel is the main f a c i l i t a t o r of the communal journey. He personally saves the coffin from premature loss on two occasions, and uses and ultimately loses his horse to get the cortege to Jefferson. Why.is he so anx-ious for the journey to proceed? The most convincing answer seems to me to come through certain motifs of stasis. These motifs lead me to perceive that Jewel somehow thinks of the journey as static, a means of keeping his mother. This attitude is perhaps most clearly visible in the l i t e r -a l l y brake-like position he takes up as they enter Jeffer-son and the burial is imminent: He does not get on even though the wagon has started again. "Get in, Jewel," I say. "Come on. Let's get away from here." But he does not get in. Instead he sets his foot on the turning hub of the rear wheel, one hand grasping the stanchion, and with the hub turning smoothly under his sole he l i f t s the other foot and squats there, staring straight ahead, motionless . . . . ( p . 2 2 1 ) This last adjective recurs frequently in regard to Jewel during the journey. In fact Darl even links Jewel's motion-lessness with the motionlessness of the buzzards which im-agistically mark the fact of Addie's death: 1 8 5 Motionless, the t a l l buzzards hang in soaring circles, the clouds giving them an il l u s i o n of retrograde. Motionless, wooden-backed, wooden-faced, ^JewelJ shapes the h:orse in a ri g i d stoop like a hawk, hook-winged, (p.89) Jewel's "motionless" and "wooden" appearance, evoked in dozens of motif vaiations throughout the text, stand in odd contrast to his energy of forwarding the journey. And that expense of energy i s also somewhat contradictory to the static posture on the wagon wheel in which he enters the last stage of the journey, in Jefferson. From these contradictions i t seems clear that Jewel i s ambivalent to-ward the journey, wanting i t to proceed, but reluctant for i t to end. That ambivalence renders his attitude to his mother's death—a desire to prolong and s t i l l her-not-yet-buried state, as though to retain her permanently. Some corroborative evidence for this interpretation exists in Jewel's own, single monologue, in which he fan-tasizes himself linked to his mother in death ("me and her on a high h i l l " [^ p• 15^) • Further corroboration comes from the apparent discrepancy between his protective care over the coffin, and his crude and irreverent attitude to Addie's gravej "Who the hell can't dig a damn hole in the ground?" (p.218) (though i t might be argued that this latter i s simply a blustering expression of deep emotion). To Jewel, the journey is a practical means of postponing the moment 186 when he has to deal with the emotional problem of his mother's death. One can see from these examples how pervasive the motif of travel is in the book, and I hope, by the examples that I've analysed, how illuminating a motif of vision i t i s . One could go into similar detail in exam-ining the attitudes to travel of the characters not yet mentioned. Anse's dual motivation, for instance (to get his teeth and to f u l f i l Addie's wish) reveals in many dif -ferent occurrences both his loyalty to the tradition of family unity, and his personal selfishness. Dewey Dell's singleminded, secret concern with her abortion—she exhib-i t s no other interest in the journey whatsoever—renders the selfish nature of her personality. And so on. Each of the separate attitudes to travel, and specifically to the funeral journey, i s a way of looking at the "blackbird." The "fourteenth way" that emerges for the reader is a strong perception of the solidarity of a family composed of d i -vergent individuals. By extension this "fourteenth" image becomes a luminous symbol of the condition of human so-ciety: a purposive conjunction of selfish mortals, exhib-itin g unbreakable loyalty to the vehicle of the family en route to the grave. 18? Having t r a c e d the working of three main t e c h -niques o f v i s i o n i n t h i s n o v e l , we come to the pr o b l e m a t i c q u e s t i o n o f d e f i n i n g the o v e r a l l e f f e c t o f these t e c h n i q u e s . What i s the v i s i o n t h a t the n o v e l embodies? What i s the rea d e r ' s "own f o u r t e e n t h image of t h a t b l a c k b i r d , which (^FaulknerJ would l i k e to t h i n k i s the t r u t h ? " The answer I t h i n k l i e s i n the term "moral awareness." The book i s p r i m a r i l y an e x e r c i s e i n v o l v i n g the reader i n a p a r t i c i p -ant a c t i v i t y of seei n g through the eyes of each o f the c h a r a c t e r s . The f o u r t e e n t h image of the b l a c k b i r d i s the composite knowledge of a f a m i l y from the i n s i d e — a know-ledge which enables the reader to r e c o g n i s e the separate v a l i d i t y of the m o t i v a t i o n s of each member. And i t ' s an image f i n a l l y o f the power of f a m i l y t i e s , which enable a most v a r i e d group of people to cooperate t o g e t h e r from ex-tremely d i f f e r e n t s t a r t i n g p o i n t s and with extremely d i f -f e r e n t i n t e r e s t s , i n overcoming impossible odds to complete a r a t h e r absurd m i s s i o n . Whether or not the reader wishes to take t h i s experience and extend i t outwards from the Bun-dren f a m i l y to l a r g e r u n i t s of s o c i e t y or even the e n t i r e human r a c e , i s up to him. Faulkner makes such an e x t e n s i o n p o s s i b l e by choosing a r c h e t y p a l elements f o r h i s plot» "I took t h i s family/and s u b j e c t e d them to the two g r e a t e s t c a t -astrophes man can s u f f e r — f l o o d and f i r e , t h a t ' s a l l . " 1 ^ 188 It may be objected that the elements of dynamic interaction between reader and a r t i s t which I've discussed so far are only a part of the content of the novel. What about ideas? What about Addie*s function? What about mythic overtones of the journey? What about "the sense of an ending" in As I Lay Dying? Surely these and others are central components, and criticism which ignores them is distorted? My answer is that the obtrusion of mannered texture and puzzling structure are the strongest-acting forces in the book, the major elements of vision. However, i t would be possible to show in a longer treatment how these elements are related to other, more conventional f i c -tive elements. For instance, I have scarcely mentioned the ADDIE section, because i t does not contain much of the im-pact of vision of the novel. It is in fact a rather un-mannered, rather conventional cerebral stream of conscious-ness. However, i t i s possible to show how this section, through cerebral monologue, serves as a verbal assertion of the validity of non-verbal communication which is prac-ticed by most of the family. Addie's monologue asserts cognitively what the reader experiences affectivelyi that seeing or otherwise using the senses is a better guide to reality than talking. Words are "just a shape to f i l l a lack" (p.164), and Addie learned during her teaching years 189 that hitting her pupils rather than talking to them was the only way to leave her mark on themi "I would think with each blow of the switch: Now you are aware of me" (p. 1 6 2 ) . The clearest, cameo examples of the family's preference for sense evidence over words are the two or three instances when Gash requires visual, not merely verbal, reassurance that his tools are safe, e.g.: "It's his tools," [Dewey Dell] said. "I brought them in," Darl said. I got them." . . • "He wants to see them," she said. So Darl brought them in where he could see them. (p.177) Thus, though surprisingly enough Addie's section i s not central in the presentation of vision in the novel, i t relates to the rest of the book. Likewise, other elements of c r i t i c a l interest can be shown to relate to the function of the dynamics of vision, though they are not as immediate and powerful as those which I've discussed. 190 In Chapter Two above, I gave the definition of "the novel of vision" as a novel in which the ar t i s t cre-ates a self-contained value scheme which i s radically un-conventional, and further, as a novel in which the way of seeing is a major part of the a r t i s t i c gesture, and usually more important than the thing seen. Armed with these definitions, a reader can approach As I Lav Dying, and by paying careful attention to i t s striking mannerisms, ob-tain a reading of a spectrum of human types composing a human family and a society. The unusual structure and tex-ture make sense after a while, in their own terms, so much so that this book becomes one which you can re-read fre-quently with constant growth. The defamiliarization of reality i s so extreme in this novel that i t takes many readings before i t s aberrations begin to seem normal. The motif of vision (esp. eyes) becomes a new tool of moral awareness in l i f e — I l i t e r a l l y find myself studying people's eyes with strange interest after reading this book. The subjectivity and re l a t i v i t y of the videologues likewise provide one with an extremely affective (as opposed to cog-nitive) awareness of human variety and the subjectivity of a l l perception. As I Lay Dying is in fact the most striking example I know, of a novel of vision. 191 FOOTNOTES Faulkner i n the University, p. 274. 2 For an accurate and f a i r l y extensive siarvey of s p e c i f i c and general Faulkner c r i t i c i s m published to I960, including some analysis of trends, see William  Faulkneri Three Decades of C r i t i c i s m , eds. Frederick J . Hoffman and Olga W. Vickery (East Lansing, Mich.i Michigan State U. Press, i 9 6 0 ) , pp. 1-50. James B. Meriwether, i n "Faulkner and the New C r i t i c i s m , " BA, 37 (Summer 1963)* 87-95* makes the point that New C r i t i c s were very l a t e i n bringing to Faulkner's texts the close textual scrutiny which t h e i r " c a r e f u l l y wrought complexities" seem to require• 3 See David M. Monaghan, "The Single Narrator of As I Lay Dying." MFS, 18, 2 (Summer 1972), 213-219. 4 For instance, Valery Larbaud, "Un Roman de William Faulkner," Ce vice impuni . . V o l . I l l of Oeuvres com- pletes (Paris 1 Gallimard, 195 D » pp. 300-306, compares Cash to Hephaistus, Anse to Ulysses, and Lafe to L i e f E r i c s o n ! ^Hyatt H. Waggoner, William Faulkneri From Jefferson to  Ihe World (Lexington, Ky.i U. of Kentucky Press, 1959)* pp. 62-87. Peter Swiggart, The Art of Faulkner's Novels (Austim U. of Texas Press, 1962), also contains a help-f u l chapter, as does Olga W. Vickery, The Novels of William  Faulkner (1959. r p t . Baton Rouge1 Louisiana State U. Press, 1964)• Of the dozen or so a r t i c l e s s p e c i f i c a l l y about t h i s novel, several pay close attention to the text, but i n my view the only one which t r u l y succeeds i n i l l u m i n a t i n g i t i s C a l v i n BedientJik"Pride and Nakednessi As I Lav Dying." MLQ, 29 (March 1968), 61-76. Bedient shows how the p a r t i c u l a r theme of nakedness counterpointed with pride i s bodied out i n the "technics" of the novel, ^ Faulkner i n the University, p. 274. 7 Faulkner i n the University, p. 87. 8 Faulkner i n the University, p. 113. 9 Conrad Aiken, r e f e r r i n g to Faulkner's s t y l e i n general, "William Faulkneri The Novel as Form," i n Three Decades, p. 138. 192 10 See also the questioner i n Faulkner i n the University, p. 86i "Mr. Faulkner, the book of yours which troubles me the most—puzzles me most, doesn't trouble me at a l l — i s As I Lav Dying." 1 1 Page references incorporated i n the text are to the 196% Random House (Vintage) e d i t i o n , which contains the corrections based on the Meriwether c o l l a t i o n s . 1 2 Waggoner, p. 6 3 . 1 3 Macbeth. I I , i , 56-58. 1 4 Common use may d u l l our awareness of the complexity of the concept "sight" i n English. Comparison with another language i s a useful reminder! Swahili, f o r example, allows "to hear" (kuslkia) as a synonym f o r "to understand" (kufahamu). but does not allow "to see" (kuona) to carry that meaning, as English does. 15 Notice Armstid's comment on t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e i " C i r c l i n g and c i r c l i n g f o r everybody i n the county to see what was i n my bam" (p. 177) • 1 6 Faulkner i n the University, p. 8 7 . CHAPTER SIX PEERING THROUGH SMOKE: The Process and the Texture iof / V i s i o n ^ i n . Absalom, Absalom! "Perhaps you are r i g h t , " Mr. Compson s a i d . "Maybe even the l i g h t of day, l e t alone t h i s — " h e i n d i c a t e d the s i n g l e globe s t a i n e d and bug-fouled from the l o n g summer and which even then gave o f f but l i t t l e l i g h t — " would be too much f o r i t , f o r them. Yes, f o r them: of t h a t day and time, of a dead time; people too as we are, and v i c t i m s too as we a r e , but v i c t i m s of a d i f f e r e n t circumstance, s i m p l e r and t h e r e -f o r e , i n t e g e r f o r i n t e g e r , l a r g e r , more h e r o i c and the f i g u r e s t h e r e o f more h e r o i c too, not dwarfed and i n v o l v e d but d i s t i n c t , uncomplex who had the g i f t o f l o v i n g once and dying once i n s t e a d o f being d i f f u s e d and s c a t t e r e d c r e a t u r e s drawn b l i n d l y limb from limb from a grab bag and assembled, author and v i c t i m too of a thousand homi-c i d e s and a thousand c o p u l a t i o n s and divorcements. Perhaps you are r i g h t . Per-haps any more l i g h t than t h i s would be too much f o r i t . " But he d i d not g i v e Quentin the l e t t e r a t once. He sat again , Quentin s i t t i n g a g a i n too, and took up the c i g a r from the verandah r a i l , the c o a l glowing a g a i n , the w i s t a r i a c o l o r e d smoke d r i f t i n g a g a i n unwinded a c r o s s Quentin's face as Mr. Compson r a i s e d h i s f e e t once more to the r a i l i n g . . . . (Absalom, Absalom!) 1 194 From start to finish, Absalom, Absalom • i s a re-cord of people engaged in struggling to understand the facts and motivations of those events which constitute it he core plot of the book, namely the events surrounding Thomas Sut-pen. The reader's only access to this core plot i s the series of conversations, reconstructions and speculations which occur in 1 9 0 9 - 1 0 , forty-one years after Sutpen's death. The core plot does not exist independently. Thus the sub-ject of the novel is not Sutpen's l i f e but the minds and words of the people in 1 9 0 9 - 1 0 (together with a very small amount of action in 1 9 1 0 ) . By creating the narrative in this way, Faulkner has utterly confused many readers, including published c r i t i c s . The confusion is inevitable and, I think, deliberate. To come to terms with this novel involves f i r s t and foremost a plunge into confusion, which I shall begin by describing. As we begin to read, and because we are already engaged in the cooperative act of fic t i v e response by v i r -tue of having opened the covers of the book and pretending we are in Jefferson, Miss,, at 2 . p.m. on a hot September day in 1 9 1 0 , we naturally tend to further our cooperation as the f i r s t character-narrator (Rosa) begins her tale; and so we sli p back to I 8 6 5 and earlier, not realizing for a while that the narrative we read is an untrustworthy record. 195 By the use of the f i r s t i t a l i c s i n the text, Faulkner im-p l i c i t l y warns us that the story we are hearing, of I833, i s only what Quentin hears Rosa saying, and therefore per-haps not as objectively true as the two pages of narrative so far i n which we have had the security of an omniscient narrator. Any e f f e c t s of t h i s warning soon wear o f f , how-ever, as the older story increasingly ousts the present continuum from the narrative. With no other perspective onto the events of 1835-1865, we are i n e v i t a b l y taken into Rosa's t a l e , and at f i r s t think of i t as true. But then as the book proceeds, o s c i l l a t i n g from one narrator to another, from one time sequence to another, the "truth" recedes from us because discrepancies i n the d i f f e r e n t s t o r i e s be-gin to emerge. For most readers, the f i r s t main clue to the d i s t o r t i n g s u b j e c t i v i t y of the account i s , I suspect, a recognition of Rosa's i n s i s t e n t use of demonic imagery in her presentation of Sutpen to Quentin, and hence to us. Now, had the d i f f e r e n t narrative accounts been as c l e a r l y marked and d i s t i n c t l y separated as they are, for instance, i n the texts of As I Lav Dying or The Sound and the Fury, we should probably have l i t t l e trouble i n knowing, as we read, where the narrative d i s t o r t i o n s are, and where the objective truth i s told accurately. But the fact i s that these separations and d i s t i n c t i o n s are not at a l l c l e a r . 196 As we move deeper and deeper i n t o the l a b y r i n t h o f t h i s l a r g e n o v e l , we keep l o s i n g t r a c k o f who i s t a l k i n g , and o f t e n , about whom. Only i n l a t e r stages of r e a d i n g do we begi n to rec o g n i z e the shape o f the n a r r a t i v e , and even a f t e r s e v e r a l readings many q u e s t i o n s o f f a c t remain to puzzl e u s . I expect most rea d e r s have experienced the f r u s t r a t i o n with t h i s book o f wanting to check on who i s n a r r a t i n g a t a p a r t i c u l a r p o i n t , and spending a n y t h i n g up to t en minutes r i f f l i n g through pages t r y i n g to f i n d the answer. Likewise I expect most rea d e r s have been t e r r i b l y perplexed by gaps i n the d e t a i l o f the p l o t , l i k e those students a t the U n i v e r s i t y o f V i r g i n i a who quizz e d Faulkner a t l ength about such t h i n g s as« "Did J u d i t h love Bon?" or "At what p o i n t does J^ Bon f i n d out about h i s Negro b l o o d j and how does he f i n d i t out?" e t c . 2 Given t h a t t h i s i s a reasonably accurate d e s c r i p -t i o n o f what i t ' s l i k e a c t u a l l y to read Absalom, Absalom I. the q u e s t i o n i s , Why should Faulkner do t h i s to the reader? What i s the value to t h i s f i c t i o n o f having such a c o n f u s i n g mesh o f not e n t i r e l y r e l i a b l e n a r r a t o r s ? The answer i s so simple t h a t i n the c o n f u s i o n of r e a d i n g we are i n danger o f mi s s i n g i t . The v a l u a b l e e f f e c t of n a r r a t i v e c o n f u s i o n i s p r e c i s e l y to confuse us, and thereby to f o r c e us to engage i n the very d i f f i c u l t a c t i v i t y of t r y i n g to understand, j u s t 197 as the narrators are doing each in their own way. To re-state my earlier definition* the subject of this novel i s the struggle to understand! and i t s method of taking us into that subject is directly experiential. Faulkner offers us not simply a picture of struggle, but an opportunity to struggle ourselves. Not only do we see the various char-acters and narrators struggling to understand, but.^ we../our-selves are forced to join them i f we are to get any sense out of what is on the pages. The subject of the novel i s , then, the struggle to understand. The struggle of the narrators produces a multiple texture of perceptions of the components in the core plot, defined earlier. Around these components is placed, as a thin frame, that small portion of action which takes place in 1910. My purpose is to illuminate both main components of the story* the struggle to understand (which I c a l l "the process of vision") and the kaleidoscope of perceptions which forms the record of the narrators' struggles ("the texture of vision"). Just as Quentin sat peering through the smoke of his father's cigar drifting past his face, while the father tried to re c a l l and make sense of the events of the past for his son, so too the reader must peer through the smokescreen of an opaque nar-rative texture to discover and make sense of the events that 198 l i e behind i t . The process of peering i s as much and as valuable a part of the reading experience of the novel as is the discernment of i t s characters, their motivations, and the events that unfold. i THE PROCESS OF VISION I shall consider three aspects of the process of vision in Absalomf Absalom it the struggle to see, the values of vision, the effect of perspective. a.) The Struggle to Seet Everyone involved in the total experience of Absalom. Absalom I—the primary characters, the narrators, the readers and c r i t i c s — p a r t i c i p a t e s in a struggle to reach understanding or insight. For the characters acting out their drama in Sutpen's lifetime, the struggle mainly involves trying to understand what's going on around them, so that they can choose how to act. For the narrators— one of whom (Rosa) is also one of the primary characters— the struggle involves mainly trying to fathom the reasons and motivations behind the various stages of the action, after f i r s t having determined the facts of what happened (but i t is important to remember that each of the narrators works within certain preconceptions, so that their struggles to some extent take the form of trying to discover those 199 things which w i l l support their preconceived visions of the plot). For readers and c r i t i c s the struggle i s mainly to discover facts and to deduce motivations. Because of this focussing on motivation, Absalom is more nearly a novel of manners than i t i s a tragic drama or a chronicle of history or a Gothic novel. But unlike other novels of manners, Pride and Prejudice, say, or The Golden Bowl, in which there is a unified narrative voice presenting a co-herent account of the action, here the fragmentation and disjunction of the narrative creates a condition in which the process of observation is as much the focus and point of reading as the "manners" which are under scrutiny. As with any novel of manners, we leave a reading of Absalom with an increased awareness of the po s s i b i l i t i e s of human behaviour; but unlike other novels of manners, Absalom d i -rectly exercises us in the complex task of arriving at the materials of that awareness, so that we leave the reading with a newly practiced s k i l l in striving for insight. Ab- salom forces us, in a way quite unusual in fic t i o n , to be-come participants in invention.. Faulkner's jerky definition of the main tool of a writer applies well to the required stance of the reader of this book« 200 The most important thing i s insight, that i s , to b e — c u r i o s i t y — t o wonder, to mull, and to muse why i t is that man does what he does . . . . To watch people, to have—to never judge people. To watch people, what they do, with-out intolerance. Simply to learn why i t i s they did what they did.3 This attempt to gain insight differs slightly, as I said, for the primary characters (participants in the core plot) than for the narrators and readers, and I shall consider the different struggles separately. For the primary characters the recurrent problem throughout their lives is some form of the two-part ques-tion* "What's going onhtecre, and what should I do about i t ? " Nowhere is this problem more clear than in i t s f i r s t ap-pearance in the chronology of the plot* the moment where the child Sutpen is sent round to the back door of the house to which he brings a message. Until this point in his l i f e , the child has lived without insight into the why's and wherefore's even of things he was aware of. For instance, he was learning about class prejudice, "that there was a difference between white men and white men," but i t was an intuitive learning, without insight» "He had begun to dis-cern that without being aware of i t yet" (p.226). The ab-sence of insight in the above example i s typical of this portion of Sutpen's story (up to the message incident). The pages are f i l l e d with phrases like "he had never thought 2 0 1 about" (pp. 2 2 1 - 2 3 2 passim). The moment of being sent a-round to the back door marks the t u r n i n g p o i n t i n Sutpen's l i f e , and from then on h i s consciousness i s p e r p e t u a l l y engulfed by the need to understand what's happening, and what to do about i t . Running from the house, he crawls i n t o a cave, and the t e x t t e l l s us why: Because he c o u l d n ' t get i t s t r a i g h t y e t . He c o u l d n ' t even r e a l i z e y e t t h a t h i s t r o u b l e , h i s impediment, was innocence because he would not be able to r e a l i z e t h a t u n t i l he got i t s t r a i g h t . So he was seeking among what l i t t l e he had to c a l l experience f o r something to measure i t by, and he c o u l d n ' t f i n d a n y t h i n g . (p.2 3 3 ) T h i s t r o u b l e d p r o c e s s of "seeking" c o n t i n u e s f o r f i v e t o r -mented pages, while the boy's consciousness srpliia^ i n t o two confused v o i c e s i n a dialogue t r y i n g to "get i t s t r a i g h t . " At l a s t he comes to understand, u s i n g the simple analogy of r i f l e s , why he has been turned away from the f r o n t door of the house, and what to do about i t : He thought: ' I f you were f i x i n g to combat them t h a t had the f i n e r i f l e s , the f i r s t t h i n g you would do would be to get y o u r s e l f the near-es t t h i n g to a f i n e r i f l e you c o u l d borrow or s t e a l or make, wouldn't i t ? ' and he s a i d Yes. 'But t h i s a i n t a q u e s t i o n of r i f l e s . So to combat them you have got to have what they have t h a t made them do what the man d i d . You have got to have land and n i g g e r s and a f i n e house to combat them w i t h . You see?' and he s a i d Yes a g a i n . He l e f t t h a t n i g h t . . . . (p.2 3 8 ) He turned away because the f o l k s i n the house f e l t im-p e l l e d to e x e r c i s e t h e i r s u p e r i o r i t y over him'i'i t h e i r 202 p o s s e s s i o n of " f i n e r i f l e s " so to speak. With t h i s new i n s i g h t i n t o the mechanics of human s o c i e t y such as he meets i t , Sutpen i s able to go on and e v e n t u a l l y to a t -tempt to r e a l i z e h i s grand d e s i g n . Ke s e t s out to a t t a i n s o c i a l s u p e r i o r i t y i n the form of l a n d , Negroes, a f i n e house. H i s c a p a c i t y of v i s i o n i s s u f f i c i e n t f o r h i s pur-poses, up to the time when he f i n d s h i s d e s i g n i n jeopardy from Bon. H i s response to t h i s c r i s i s i s to view i t as the product of an e r r o r i n h i s understanding! "not c a l l -i n g i t r e t r i b u t i o n , no s i n s of the f a t h e r come home to r o o s t ; not even c a l l i n g i t bad l u c k , but j u s t a mistake" ( p . 2 6 7 ) . H i s i n s i g h t has f a i l e d him somewhere down the l i n e , so now, i n o l d age, Sutpen t r i e s to cure h i s v i s i o n of the "mistake" by making the journey to town to see o l d General Compson, "to review the f a c t s f o r an i m p a r t i a l " (and Grandfather s a i d he b e l i e v e d , a l e g a l l y t r a i n e d ) mind to examine and f i n d and p o i n t out to him. Not moral r e t -r i b u t i o n you see 1 j u s t an o l d mistake i n f a c t which a man of courage and shrewdness . . • c o u l d s t i l l combat i f he c o u l d o n l y f i n d out what the mistake had been" ( p p . 2 6 7 - 8 ) . Sutpen never r e c o g n i z e s the reasons f o r h i s "mis-take," but he does g a i n the i n s i g h t to d e a l with i t s con-sequences. Through the v i s i t w ith General Compson, Sutpen comes to r e a l i z e t h a t the impending l i n k between J u d i t h and 2 0 3 Bon offers him only two alternative courses of action, both bad; "I am now faced with a second necessity to choose," he t e l l s the General, "the curious factor of which is not, as you pointed out and as f i r s t appeared to me, that the necessity for a new choice should have arisen, but that either choice . . . leads to the same result" ( p . 2 7 4 ) . A l -though nowhere in the narrative do we observe Sutpen's mind struggling to a resolution of this dilemma, the events reveal that he does in fact attain that insighti he finds a third solution, not thought of before, namely to get Henry to prevent the marriage by k i l l i n g Bon. This prevents both the social humiliation of acknowledging the Negro blood in his f i r s t marriage, and the personal defeat of simply allowing the marriage to take place, which would have constituted to Sutpen "a mockery and a betrayal of that l i t t l e boy who approached that door f i f t y years ago" ( p . 2 7 4 ) . Sutpen's next (and last) problem i s to get a new son born, now that Bon is dead and Henry a fugitive. His f i r s t attempt f a i l s , specifically because of a lapse of insight. He proposes to Rosa in such terms as Mr. Compson says he ought to have known would have failed* "The shrewdness failed him again. It broke down, i t vanished . So he suggested what he suggested to her, and she 2 0 4 d i d what he should have known she would do, and would have known probably i f he had not bogged h i m s e l f a g a i n i n h i s m o r a l i t y . . . " (p .279)» Preoccupied with what Mr. Compson c a l l s h i s " m o r a l i t y , " ( i . e . h i s d e t e r m i n a t i o n to c r e a t e a male l i n e a g e i n v u l n e r a b l e to s o c i a l d e n i g r a t i o n ) and i n a hurry because of advancing y e a r s , Sutpen f a i l s i n the s t r u g -g l e to understand people, consequently badly misjudges Rosa and l o s e s her. F i n a l l y of course, i t i s Sutpen's dismal l a c k o f i n s i g h t i n t o Wash Jones' f e e l i n g s t h a t b r i n g s about h i s death. At the end of h i s l i f e Sutpen appears t o t a l l y to l a c k any c a p a c i t y to understand people's f e e l i n g s and m o t i v a t i o n s . Wash Jones k i l l s him f o r h i s amazingly c r a s s treatment of M i l l i e ("Too bad you're not a mare too, then I could g i v e you a decent s t a l l i n the s t a b l e " £ p . 2 8 6 J ) . And Wash's l a s t mutterings i r o n i c a l l y p o i n t up Sutpen's f a i l u r e o f i n s i g h t : "But I never expected t h a t , K e r n e l ! You know I never!" (p . 2 9 0 ) U n f o r t u n a t e l y f o r Wash, and M i l l i e , and the c h i l d , and f o r Sutpen h i m s e l f , the o l d man had by t h i s time g i v e n up the s t r u g g l e to understand what people expected and what they d i d n ' t . What's going, on, and what to do about i t ? T h i s , as I've s a i d , i s the form which the s t r u g g l e to understand takes i n the l i v e s of the primary c h a r a c t e r s . I t i s c l e a r l y t h i s q u e s t i o n too that plagues both Bon and Henry throughout 205 t h e i r p a r t s i n the drama. Henry t r a i l s around New Orleans a t the h e e l s of h i s mentor, Bon, as the l a t t e r c a r e f u l l y c u l t i v a t e s the former's understanding, and Henry i s mys-t i f i e d by much of what he sees* 'Oh I know. I know. You give me two and two and t e l l me i t makes f i v e and i t does make f i v e . But there i s s t i l l the marriage. Sup-pose I assume an o b l i g a t i o n to a man who can-not speak my language, the o b l i g a t i o n s t a t e d to him i n h i s own and I agree to i t s am I any the l e s s o b l i g a t e d because I d i d not hap-pen to know the tongue i n which he accepted me i n good f a i t h ? ' (p.118) Law student t h a t he now i s , Henry d i s p l a y s some i n t e l l e c t u a l and emotional energy i n w r e s t l i n g with the terms o f the dilemma he f i n d s h i m s e l f i n , but h i s mind i s not c l e a r . He can't "get i t s t r a i g h t " as h i s f a t h e r once d i d many years b e f o r e , and i n s t e a d ends up w a i t i n g " f o u r y e a r s , h o l d i n g the three o f them i n th a t abeyance, t h a t durance, w a i t i n g , hoping f o r Bon to renounce the woman and d i s s o l v e the mar-r i a g e which he (Henry) admitted was no marriage, and which he must have; known as soon as he saw the woman and the c h i l d t h a t Bon would not renounce" ( p . 1 1 9 ) , Yet henry does not g i v e up the s t r u g g l e . I f the war has postponed the out-come of the i s s u e , t h a t outcome must n e v e r t h e l e s s be r e -sol v e d , e i t h e r by an enemy b u l l e t or by h i m s e l f . On the very l a s t day he s t r u g g l e s with the terms "b r o t h e r " and "nigg e r , " t r y i n g to r e s o l v e them* 206 Then do i t now, Bon says. Henry lo o k s a t the p i s t o l ; now he i s not only p a n t i n g , he i s trembling; when he speaks now h i s v o i c e i s not even the e x h a l a t i o n , i t i s the s u f f u s e d and s u f f o c a t i n g i n b r e a t h i t s e l f : You are my b r o t h e r . No I'm no t . I'm the n i g g e r t h a t ' s going to s l e e p with your s i s t e r . Unless you stop me, Henry, (p.3 5 8 ) When he f i n a l l y shoots Bon he does so i n an enormous t e n s i o n between what he knows he must do, and h i s understanding of why he shoul d . In f a c t he has been i n t h i s u n r e s o l v a b l e dilemma s i n c e h i s f a t h e r f i r s t t o l d him Bon must not marry J u d i t h ; he knew "thaat'^he was doomed and d e s t i n e d to k i l l " (p.9l), but h i s p r e f e r e n c e was always to p r o c r a s t i n a t e i n the "hope and dream o f change i n Bon""(p.91) as the way out of the problem. Henry k i l l s Bon a t the end i n t r a n c e - l i k e obedience to h i s f a t h e r ' s command. Had he known what was i n Bon's mind, ca u s i n g the l a t t e r to r e f u s e simply to g i v e up and go away, he might have found courage to disobey h i s f a t h e r . That i s , had Henry r e a l i z e d how deeply wounded Bon was by Sutpen*s f a i l u r e to g i v e him the s l i g h t e s t token of acknowledgment, he might have weighed t h a t immoral c r u e l t y of h i s f a t h e r a g a i n s t the s o c i a l stigma of Bon's mixed b l o o d , and decided on a d i f f e r e n t course of a c t i o n — p e r h a p s . At a l l events, Henry's s t r u g g l e to understand d i d not succeed i n b r i n g i n g the t r u t h to l i g h t , as Shreve and Quentin b r i n g 2 0 ? i t to light in a long night of struggling to understand forty-five years after the event. Bon slowly discovers himself to be the victim of other people's decision and machinations. His struggle to see what is going on is slow to develop* He found out that his mother was up to some-thing and he not only didn't care, he didn't care that he didn't know what i t was; he got older and found out that she had been shaping and tempering him to be the instrument for whatever i t was her hand was implacable for. (p.2 9 9 ) This early attitude of not caring persists only temporarily. Soon he is mightily curious to understand what exactly his mother and the lawyer are cooking up between them, and be-gins to think in terms of "beating" (p.3 1 0 ) them at their game. Finally, by the time he's on the boat for Oxford, the desire to get insight into the machinations involving him becomes quite overwhelming* And now this—school, college—and he twenty-eight years old. And not only that, but this particular college, which he had never heard of,which ten years ago did not even exist; and knowing too that i t was the lawyer that had chosen i t for him—what sober, what intent, what almost frowning Why? Why? Why? this par- ticular one above a l l others?—maybe leaning there Ifi that sSlitude between panting smoke and engines and almost touching the answer, aware of the jigsaw puzzle picturesdntegers of i t waiting, almost lurking, just beyond his reach, inextricable, jumbled and unrecognizable yet on the point of f a l l i n g into patterm which would reveal to him at once, like a flash of 208 l i g h t , the meaning of h i s whole l i f e p a s t — the H a i t i , the c h i l d h o o d , the lawyer, the woman who was h i s mother, (pp.312-3) The jigsaw takes shape slowly, t i l l Bon comes to the ob-s e s s i v e r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t Sutpen i s h i s f a t h e r — o b s e s s i v e i n the sense t h a t he now begins d e s p e r a t e l y to crave a token of r e c o g n i t i o n . Even as Sutpen does nothing, Bon r e p e a t -e d l y i n t e r p r e t s h i s f a i l u r e to a c t as some form of s e c r e t r e c o g n i t i o n ("he l e f t no message f o r me here because the  others are not to suspect v e t " £p.329j)» thus r e v e a l i n g enormous energy i n the s t r u g g l e to understand h i s f a t h e r ' s motives. The second context of Bon's stuggle f o r i n s i g h t i s i n h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p to Henry. W i l l ; h i s b r o t h e r k i l l him? For f o u r years Bon and Henry f i g h t t ogether i n the war, and t h i s unanswered q u e s t i o n l i e s between them l i k e c o r r u p t ground. Henry's f o u r years of h e s i t a t i o n , d u r i n g which h i s b r o t h e r not only saves him from dying of h i s wounds ( a c c o r d i n g to Shreve f p . 3 ^ J ) but even suggests to Henry th a t he could k i l l him (Bon) i n b a t t l e and nobody would k n o w — a l l t h i s i s too much f i n a l l y f o r Bon's p a t i e n c e , and he hands Henry the p i s t o l . One can a t t r i b u t e Bon's s u i c i d a l attempt to get to J u d i t h f i n a l l y , not so much to love*" as to the simple need to know whether Henry, l i k e h i s f a t h e r , w i l l r e j e c t him u t t e r l y ; Shreve and Quentin deduce from the 209 picture of the octoroon on Bon's body, that he really did not know at the end whether Henry would shoot or not,(p.359)• In Bon's case, the struggle to understand is l i t e r a l l y a struggle to.the death. Rosa's struggle to understand i s undertaken in such bitter, lonely isolation that i t inevitably produces a grossly distorted personal v i s i o n — a gothic tale, as many c r i t i c s have pointed out. I shall come to the matter of distortion in Rosa's tale presently; for the moment my purpose is simply to draw attention to the enormous energy of Rosa's struggle for insight—an energy that not only leads her to urge Quentin f i n a l l y to publicise the story, but also prompts her after forty-five years of grim silence to climb into a carriage and go out once again to Sutpen's Hundred to hunt out the last surviving element of the original plot, namely the identity of the secret lodger, Henry. It is completely in character that she and she alone sniffed out the secret of Henry's whereabouts (though we may well wonder how she did i t ) , because throughout her early l i f e she was the snooper, the pryer, the spy. Her charac-t e r i s t i c attitude i s standing behind a closed door, figuring out from hints just exactly what is going on in there; 210 " . . . even i f I could not have heard through the door a t a l l , I c o u l d have repeated the c o n v e r s a t i o n f o r them . . . ." (p.2 5 ) And her repeated a s s e r t i o n s i n the f i f t h chapter t h a t she was not s p y i n g i r o n i c a l l y p o i n t up the f a c t t h a t a c t u a l l y t h i s i s the one a c t i v i t y she spent her whole l i f e a t , and was good a t . Mr. Compson p o i n t s out r e p e a t e d l y to Quentin t h a t Rosa d i d not even witness many of the t h i n g s she t a l k s to Quentin about ("So Miss Rosa d i d not see any of them" ( p . 7 4 ) , "She d i d not see the regiment depart" ( p .8 1 ) , and Rosa h e r s e l f emphasizes the same p o i n t ("You see, I never  saw him," L P » 1 5 O J ) a l l of which e m p h a t i c a l l y shows the gr e a t expense of l o n e l y energy t h a t Rosa put i n t o t r y i n g to s t r u g g l e f o r i n s i g h t about what was goingcon, from the s l i g h t -e s t of c l u e s . Most apparent of a l l the s t r u g g l e s are those c a r r i e d on by the n a r r a t o r s . "You see?" (p.9 9 ) Mr. Compson asks, as he frames h i s e l a b o r a t e deductions f o r h i s son* "You see," (p . 1 6 7 ) Rosa addresses Quentin, as she s t r u g g l e s to r a t i o n a l i z e her p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the h o r r i d t a l e . "For C h r i s t ' s sake w a i t . You mean t h a t he ," (p.2 8 9 ) Shreve t y p i c a l l y i n t e r j e c t s as he and Quentin s i t up a l l n i g h t w r e s t l i n g to get the s t o r y s t r a i g h t — a n d l a t e r , with a s o r t of triumph of i n s i g h t , "Jesus, you can almost see him" ( p . 2 9 7 ) . Perhaps the most i n t e r e s t i n g (and a s t o n i s h i n g ) evidence of the e n e r g e t i c s t r u g g l e of the n a r r a t o r s i s Shreve and Quentin's 2 1 1 dual c o n c o c t i o n of the e n t i r e New Orleans lawyer episode, a l e n g t h y and e l a b o r a t e d e d u c t i o n based on not a s i n g l e c l u e i n the n a r r a t i v e s they have r e c e i v e d from o t h e r s . T h i s c o n c o c t i o n , together with the p i c t u r e of the "drawing room of baroque and f u s t y magnificence which Shreve had invented and which," (the omniscient n a r r a t o r t e l l s us) "was probably true enough" (p.355) and such other t h i n g s as Shreve's deduction t h a t i t was Henry, not Bon, who was wounded at the b a t t l e of S h i l o h , p r o v i d e a model of nar-r a t i v e a c t i v i t y f o r the reader to i m i t a t e ; l i k e the nar-r a t o r s , the reader too i s induced to s t r u g g l e with the con-fused and t a n g l e d p l o t , f i g u r i n g out f a c t s and motives. The l a s t l i n e of the book (the memorable, ambiguous c r y , "I dont hate i t I I dont hate i t l*) i s t y p i c a l of t h a t c h a l -lenge and inducement. For the primary c h a r a c t e r s , the s t r u g g l e f o r i n -s i g h t a t b e s t l e a d s to the a b i l i t y to choose how to a c t , as I've shown. For the n a r r a t o r s , and f o r the r e a d e r , the need to do something i s reduced p r o p o r t i o n a l to d i s t a n c e from the events of the p l o t . As V i c k e r y has shown, the n a r r a t o r s are each i n t h e i r own way t r y i n g to f i n d ways of g e t t i n g the f a c t s to " f i t the preconceived';''^ For Rosa, the most i n v o l v e d of the n a r r a t o r s , t h i s need i s c r u c i a l and compulsive, while f o r Shreve, a t the other end of the 212 scale, i t i s primarily an intellectual exercise. What a-bout the reader, what must he do? Why include him along with the narrators in this context? My answer is that the reader experiences a sort of after-effect, a "hunger the author has stirred" in him, Irving Howe calls it,5 which demands to be satisfied. The story seems not to end with reading, because i t ' s never f u l l y told, and "the continual frustration of our desire to complete the pattern of motiva-tion"^ pushes us to carry on the tale in our minds, t i l l we are satisfied. The inconclusive ending preserves that "bewildering suspension of elements the book has presented,"7 and such a suspension, as Kermode has argued,8 is intoler-able in the reading of f i c t i o n . Hence the reader must do something with the story which w i l l satisfy the craving for an ending, rather than be l e f t inconclusively " i n the mid-dest."9 What precisely each reader w i l l do with the story obviously depends on the kind and depth of his involvement in the f i c t i o n a l world created. For example my personal re-action to the story is somewhat like Shreve'SJ I consider Sutpen "an example of grotesque human behavior" 1 0 and with a sense of moral outrage I speculate whether "in time the Jim Bonds are going to conquer the western hemisphere" (p.3?8)s James Guetti, by contrast, suggests an identicality in 11 "Quentin's, and a reader's, position," and dismisses Shreve*s perspective by suggesting that "the latter may be 213 the only unquestionable psychopathological case in the n o v e l — i n his capacity for sadism, the emphatic vicarious-ness of his pleasures, and so on." 1 2 I take Guetti's and my own different evaluations of Shreve as typical indica-tions of the entirely personal ways in which each reader continues to struggle for insight even after the book has been read and laid aside. b). The Values of Vision: The characters, narrators and readers are a l l en-gaged, then, in a struggle to see. At this point we may well ask, Why bother? Does the struggle for vision have any payoff? As Slatoff points out, i t is p i t i f u l "that Shreve and Quentin seem to have been so l i t t l e instructed by their immense labor of imagination." 1 3 The same c r i t i c (referring to a range of Faulkner-hs books) points out that "the agony of his characters almost never leads them or those who outlive them to any wisdom or understanding of their own or the human condition," 1 4 and this seems to me at least partly an accurate statement. What then is the value of that "agony" and struggle to attain insight? The answer takes the form of a paradox of know-ledge: even though the struggle to see does not produce clear and complete vision as a tool for successful l i v i n g — 214 indeed i t seems to produce mostly confusion and various de-grees of despair and bitterness—nevertheless the act of struggling is i t s e l f an ennobling and satisfying human en-deavour. The reward given to those who struggle might be summed up in some words of another Quentin, in Arthur Miller's After The F a l l i To know, and even happily, that we meet un-blessed; not in some garden of wax fr u i t and painted trees, that l i e of Eden, but after, after the f a l l , after many, many deaths. Is the knowing all ? 15 Yes, perhaps the knowing is a l l . Like even the simplistic Ellen, a l l the main characters and the narrators and the readers too are motivated to proceed in their individual searches for insight by the attraction of coming ever closer to that point where one is able to say, "at least I now know  a l l of i t " (p.29). Even though no-one ever attains that point of illumination, not even the reader, nevertheless the attraction of striving towards i t is strong enough motiva-tion to maintain the search. Even though the fragmentary vision attained i s often quite unpleasant, yet the motive remains strong throughout the book. There i s a dramatic evocation of this strength in the last chapter, which i l l u -minates the value I am talking about. In Chapter IX Quentin re-lives the last journey out to Sutpen's Hundred with Miss Rosa, and we see how he 215 g r a d u a l l y becomes obsessed by the same d r i v e f o r knowledge as Rosa. At f i r s t , d u r i n g the journey and up to the a r r i v a l , Quentin i s ambivalent about the venture* On the one hand he takes some p l e a s u r e i n a l l o w i n g h i s mind to wander over the events t h a t have taken p l a c e i n these surroundings, v i v i d l y imaging Sutpen's approach to M i l l i e (p.363), the s c e n e r i o of Bon's death (p.364) and so f o r t h i on the other hand he f e e l s t h a t they r e a l l y should j u s t t u r n around and go back home to bed (p.364). In a l i t t l e w h i l e the p o l e s of h i s ambivalence i n t e n s i f y ! . . . p r e s e n t l y he found h i m s e l f r e p e a t i n g her words* ' I f we can j u s t get to the house, get i n s i d e the house,' t e l l i n g h i m s e l f , r e -c o v e r i n g h i m s e l f i n t h a t same b r e a t h : "I am not a f r a i d . I j u s t dont want to be here. I j u s t dont want to know about whatever i t i s she keeps hidden i n i t . ' (p.366) D e s p i t e t h i s l a s t a s s e r t i o n , he cannot convince h i m s e l f t h a t he doesn't want to know. Soon he f i n d s h i m s e l f "aping without knowing i t her own tense f a i n t i n g haste" (p.367). Suddenly, e x c i t e d l y , he i n t u i t s t h a t Rosa's e x h i b i t i o n of nervousness i s not simply a product of f e a r , but another kind of r e a c t i o n , to a mysterious "something" (p.367) i n the house. Before he can b e i n g to siuare her degree of c u r i o s i t y about the hidden "something," she o u t s t r i p s him and i s ready to take the h a t c h e t from him and break through the door. S t i l l somewhat r e l u c t a n t C"'So now I s h a l l have to go i n , ' " 2 1 6 [ p . 3 6 8 j ), Quentin enters the house. Rosa now completes her mission by beating C l y t i e out of the way and rushing upstairs to discover Henry, Quentin meets her walking back through the upper h a l l , and he knows he ought to turn a-round and follow her and take her home, as he has wanted to do a l l evening: but the desire to see what i s i n the room i s just too strong to r e s i s t , even though he can t e l l by Rosa's stunned face that i t i s not going to be a pleas-ant sight: . . . he stood there thinking, 'I should go with her' and then, 'But I must see too now. I w i l l have to. Maybe I s h a l l be sorry to-morrow, but I must see.' (pp.370-1) waking or sleeping he walked down that upper h a l l between the scaling walls and beneath the cracked c e i l i n g , toward the fadnt l i g h t that f e l l outward from the l a s t door and paused there, saying 'No. No' and then T0nly I must. I have to.' (p.372) I emphasize that Quentin's desire to see what i s i n the room i s not mere c u r i o s i t y . From the moment when he detected the s p ecial "something" which was occupying Rosa's atten-t i o n , Quentin has become increasingly aware that the secret i n the room i s somehow both important and t e r r i f y i n g . Re-peatedly throughout the narration of the incident his lang-guage i s charged with ominous dramatic heightening (e.g. "he could f e e l something f i e r c e and implacabTLe and dynamic d r i v -ing down [Rosa's I thin r i g i d arms and into his palms and up 21? h i s own arms;" jj?»36?J ) and the e f f e c t of the v i s i t on him i s p r a c t i c a l l y t r a u m a t i c . When he gets home he rushes up-s t a i r s i n a p a n t i n g haste, s t r i p s naked and swabs at h i s sweaty body with a s h i r t , as though to cleanse h i m s e l f from a h o r r o r ( p . 3 7 2 ) . C l e a r l y the experience has been f o r him an encounter-with a human symbol of the decay and d i s s o l u -t i o n of the s o c i e t y t h a t produced him--a s h a t t e r i n g blow to h i s sense of i d e n t i t y ; y e t he had to go i n and l o o k . Thus Faulkner renders i n a dramatic i n c i d e n t t y p i c a l of the en-t i r e course of the n o v e l t h a t the s t r u g g l e to see i s a s e l f -f u l f i l l i n g need, however d i s t r e s s i n g the o b j e c t of the v i s i o n . Not a l l of the c h a r a c t e r s d i s p l a y the same r e l e n t -l e s s energy as Quentin, i n the s t r u g g l e f o r i n s i g h t . Mr. Compson, f o r i n s t a n c e , i s sometimes content with r e c e i v e d i n f o r m a t i o n which he does not c h a l l e n g e , such as the theory that i t was the existence:: of Bon's m i s t r e s s t h a t caused the c o n f l i c t between Bon and Henry ( p . 2 6 6 ) . Or, another example, Rosa never appears to r e a l l y t r y to understand what motivates S u t p e n — h i s grand d e s i g n — a n d i s content simply to l a b e l him a s u p e r n a t u r a l monster. "Content" i s a mis-l e a d i n g word however, f o r d e s p i t e the l i m i t a t i o n s of t h e i r v i s i o n s , and perhaps of t h e i r energy, i t i s c l e a r t h a t n e i t h -e r Rosa nor Mr. Compson have ever g i v e n up the s t r u g g l e to see c l e a r l y , even though they may haveii/preconceptions about 218 what they are willing to see. Mr. Compson expresses his frustration with perceptions that "simply dont explain," and concludes f a t a l i s t i c a l l y that perhaps "we are not sup-posed to know" (p.100). But his fatalism is largely an empty posture; the energetic process of constant reconsid-eration, constant struggle for insight, which he himself describes, bespeaks a willingness to search which is far from the inertia of fatalism connoted by the words last quoted. "They are there, yet something is missing; they are like a chemical formula exhumed along with the letters from that forgotten chesty care-fully, the paper old and faded and fa l l i n g to pieces, the writing faded, almost indecipher-able, yet meaningful, familiar in shape and sense, the name and presence of volatile and sentient forces; you bring them together in the proportions called for, but nothing hap-pens; you re-read, tedious and intent, poring, making sure that you have fogotten nothing, made no miscalculation; you bring them together again and again nothing happens." (p.101; In this description we see once again evidence of the main value of the struggle for visioni the energy spent in re-reading, poring over and "bringing them together again" ev-idently must satisfy his hunger for insight, even though he does not find clear answers. Forty years after the events, Mr. Compson is s t i l l willing to engage in the struggle. The insight-seeking seems as important to him as any illumina-tion he may happily find. Thus the struggle to see is partly i t s own reward for him. 219 S i m i l a r l y f o r Rosa, the d e s i r e f o r v i s i o n i s so encompassing t h a t i t has remained the s i n g l e focus o f her a t t e n t i o n throughout her mature y e a r s . She i s not as open to new d i s c o v e r y as Mr. Compson i s , but seeks ever more evidence f o r the c o n f i r m a t i o n of her own Gothic v e r s i o n of the s t o r y . She, who as we have seen never r e a l l y witnessed much of the core p l o t , l i v e s out her l i f e s e eking the c l e a r evidence t h a t her v i s i o n of Sutpen's d e v i l r y i s r i g h t , and wanting i t p u b l i c i z e d f o r others to see i t (p.10). When that l a s t evidence i s destroyed i n the f i r e , Rosa simply d i e s because, as Shreve puts i t , " i t was a l l f i n i s h e d now, there was no t h i n g l e f t now" ( p . 3 7 6 ) . That i s , with Sutpen's house and h i s l a s t l e g i t i m a t e son both gone, Rosa has l o s t the l a s t remaining props from her macabre drama i n v o l v i n g Sutpen. There i s no remaining way f o r her to c o n f i r m her v i s i o n of the "demon," so she t e l l s her s t o r y to Quentin, f o r him to w r i t e up, and she d i e s . Probably the s t r o n g e s t evidence i n the book of the value o f s t r u g g l i n g f o r v i s i o n , i s Faulkner's dramatic p i c -ture of Shreve and Quentin doing j u s t t h a t . The huge e f f o r t to r e c o n s t r u c t the s t o r y , which Shreve and Quentin make, f i l l s t w o - t h i r d s o f the t e x t . A g a i n s t the ha r d s h i p s of a l a t e and f r e e z i n g n i g h t , the two boys throw a l l the i n t e l -l e c t u a l r e s o u r c e s of e n e r g e t i c young law students i n t o an u n f l a g g i n g attempt to get the p i c t u r e c l e a r , down to the 220 last possible detail. Once again Faulkner dramatically heightens the language, which creates an atmosphere of ut-most importance and seriousness around the activity of imaginative reconstructions Quentin and Shreve stared at one another— glared rather—their quiet regular breathing vaporizing faintly and steadily in the now tomblike a i r . There was something curious in the way they looked at one another, curious and quiet and profoundly intent, not at a l l as two young men might look at each other but almost as a youth and a very young g i r l might out of virginity i t s e l f — a sort of hushed and naked searching, each look bur-dened with youth's immemorial obsession not with time's dragging weight which the old live with but with i t s f l u i d i t y . ( p . 2 9 9 ) By the virginity metaphor here, Faulkner asserts that search-ing energetically for insight—"that best of ratiocination" (p.280)—is a way of discovering l i f e equivalent to sexual experience. By placing this college bull session in an atmosphere of "curious and quiet and profoundly intent" looks between the two boys, Faulkner attributes a kind of religious importance to the quest for insight. Earlier, Quentin rec-ognizes the relevance of the kind of thing he and Shreve are doing, when he perceives the interconnectedness of a l l peo-ple, in an image of interconnected pools through which r i p -ples spread with an "old ineradicable rhythm" (p.26l); he perceives in effect that the more we understand others, the more we understand ourselves, since we are interconnected. 221 And i f t h a t ' s a l e g i t i m a t e d e f i n i t i o n of the value of what Shreve and Quentin are a c h i e v i n g by t h e i r e f f o r t s , i t a l s o d e s c r i b e s the value o f the v i s i o n which a person a c q u i r e s through the d i f f i c u l t r e a d i n g of such a book as Absalom,  Absalom.' c ) . The E f f e c t of P e r s p e c t i v e * The f o u r c h a r a c t e r n a r r a t o r s (Rosa, Mr, Compson, Quentin, Shreve) each have a d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e on the events of the core p l o t . As many c r i t i c s have noted, none of these f o u r n a r r a t i v e s i s completely r e l i a b l e , f o r (to use Faulkner's terms) they each see a " s l i g h t l y awry phase" of the t r u t h . 1 0 And although we do have a f i f t h n a r r a t o r , the author or omniscient v o i c e who o c c a s i o n a l l y i n t r u d e s , and on whom we can presumably r e l y f u l l y , y e t h i s n a r r a t i v e i s so s m a l l and incomplete t h a t i t does not provide a c o r -r e c t i v e to the s e v e r a l s u b j e c t i v e accounts. So we can never be c e r t a i n whose s t o r y i s c l o s e s t to t r u t h , and whose the most d i s t o r t e d . The argument sometimes advanced i n the p a s t t h a t Mr. Compson's s t o r y i s the most r e l i a b l e has been e f f e c t i v e l y d i s m i s s e d by U s e L i n d , who shows how h i s n a r -r a t i v e i s s e r i o u s l y warped by h i s "world-weariness, h i s love of paradox, h i s f a s c i n a t i o n with the e x o t i c . " 1 7 Never-t h e l e s s , the n a r r a t i v e s do become more comprehensive and t h e r e f o r e i n a sense more p l a u s i b l e i n the order i n which 222 they appear. Since that order i s , overall, from Rosa to Mr. Compson to Quentin to Shreve, we can see that the nar-ratives become more complete in proportion to the distance of each narrator from the events of the core plot. (The distance in this case is measured both in time and in per-sonal involvement.) Thus a theme emerges, affirming the value of historical enquiry* that completeness of vision increases with distance. It appears that to understand the f u l l significance of Sutpen's (or, by extension, of anyone's) l i f e is a function not of his closest associates, but of posterity and strangers. The characteristics of the four narratives have been much studied, notably by Levins, Vickery and others 1 8 who find in general that the stories f a l l into certain genre traditions (Gothic mystery, classical tragedy, chivalric romance, t a l l tale, etc.). These labels do help to point up the fundamental differences in the narratives, which some c r i t i c s have denied.19 However the labels also tend to confer a certain false equality of status on the narratives, and thus obscure the growth of intensity and comprehensive-ness in the progressive visions. To c a l l Quentin's and Shreve's tales ''chivalric romance," and " t a l l tale," as Lind does, or "the product of their youth and imagination" as Vickery does, 2 0 may be correct, but at the samettime such 223 p i g e o n - h o l i n g seems to me to put down these n a r r a t i v e s i n a way th a t d i s g u i s e s t h e i r impact. I t i s important to remember the p r o g r e s s i o n o f the p e r s p e c t i v e s * f i r s t we hear from an o l d woman who has i n t e r n a l i z e d t h i s s t o r y i n which she was a marginal but much-damaged p a r t i c i p a n t , and has fed o f f i t e m o t i o n a l l y f o r p r a c t i c a l l y a l l o f her l i f e . N a t u r a l l y her s t o r y i s i n t e n s e , t w i s t e d and ve r y incomplete. Next comes an o l d man who was too young a t the time to be in v o l v e d i n the events, but whose f a t h e r was a major pare-t i c i p a n t ; hence he i s somewhat i n v o l v e d and somewhat detached from the events. Next, a young man born i n t o the d i s i n -t e g r a t i n g c u l t u r e i n which the events have occured, and f o r whom they t h e r e f o r e assume some importance, but born l o n g a f t e r the events, and t h e r e f o r e c l e a r l y detached from them (at l e a s t u n t i l the f i n a l episode of the v i s i t to Sutpen's Hundred). And f i n a l l y , a young f o r e i g n e r t o t a l l y detached from the events by c u l t u r e , time and geography. The order of the n a r r a t i v e p e r s p e c t i v e s i s , then, an order o f dimin-i s h i n g involvement, of i n c r e a s i n g detachment. Yet s t r a n g e l y enough, as MacMillanhaassppintedoQut;, while " p h y s i c a l c l o s e -ness d i m i n i s h e s between the n a r r a t o r and h i s s u b j e c t i n the n o v e l , i m a g i n a t i v e p r o p r i n q u i t y i n c r e a s e s . " The f u r t h e r the n a r r a t o r s are from the events, the more energy do they d i s p l a y i n c o n s t r u c t i n g the s t o r y , and the more complete a .224 s t o r y do they a c h i e v e . Quentin acknowledges t h i s c u r i o u s e f f e c t of p e r s p e c t i v e when he t h i n k s ( c o n c e r n i n g Sutpen*s d e l i v e r y of the tombstones) t h a t "he might even have been t h e r e , " but immediately catches h i m s e l f with the r e a l i z a -t i o n ! "No. I f I had been there I could not have seen i t  t h i s p l a i n " (p.190). Faulkner too a l l u d e s to the same e f -f e c t , i n remarking that "probably h i s f r i e n d jjShreve] McCan-non had a much t r u e r p i c t u r e from what Quentin t o l d him than Quentin h i m s e l f d i d . " 2 2 Two comments seem worth making about t h i s i l l u -m inating e f f e c t of d i s t a n c e on those who s t r u g g l e f o r v i s i o n . F i r s t , i n i t s converse statement ( i . e . the o b s c u r i n g e f f e c t of c l o s e n e s s ) , t h i s theme d i s c l o s e s an important aspect of the main theme of the n o v e l , the s t r u g g l e f o r v i s i o n . The s t r u g g l e f o r v i s i o n i s p r o g r e s s i v e l y harder, the c l o s e r i t i s to home. Inasmuch as Absalom, Absalom I i n d u c t s the r e a d -er i n t o the e x e r c i s e of s t r u g g l i n g to see, t h i s new aspect p r o v i d e s a warning t h a t the hardest c h a l l e n g e to i n s i g h t i s to t r y and see o n e s e l f , or t h a t which i s c l o s e s t to o n e s e l f . My second comment concerns i r o n y . Sutpen l i v e d h i s l i f e a c t i n g out the grand design conceived by h i s l i m i t e d v i s i o n . During h i s l i f e t i m e i t i s c l e a r t h a t no-one was able to understand the motives and dreams of h i s l i f e . H i s c l o s e s t c o n f i d a n t appears to have been General Compson, but 225 the General had some serious deficiencies in his vision of Sutpen, as Cleanth Brooks has shown in a helpful tabulation. It took two more generations for the young men to emerge who would energetically piece together the shards of infor-mation, and develop a moderately comprehensive picture of at least the major motivations. For a man to live his l i f e in tortuous obedience to the dictates of a strange, warped conscience, as Sutpen did, and only begin to be understood several decades after death, is surely a bitter irony. Yet the novel exposes an ambivalence in this situation; i t is not a l l bitter. For the fact that Shreve and Quentin do  struggle to penetrate the obscure surfacevof events and reach an understanding of the motives seems to me a rather affirmative fact* i t affirms the solidarity of the human community, the recognition on the part of the younger men that they are a part of a l l that has gone before, and that they in turn w i l l constitute a portion of the future human race. Sutpen himself hoped for this affirmation. He told General Compson, who told i t to Jason Compson, who told i t to his son Quentin, who told i t to the foreigner Shreve, that he wanted to live in such a way "that he would be able to look in the face not only the old dead ones but a l l the li v i n g ones that would come after him when he would be one of the dead" (p.2 2 0 ) . Consistent with Sutpen's view of 226 p o s t e r i t y here expressed, Quentin h i m s e l f d e v e l o p s — whether from Sutpen or not we do not know—a sense of the connectedness of human.lives and g e n e r a t i o n s , as expressed i n the p o o l image a l r e a d y quoted. Like w i s e , the reader, from whatever p e r s p e c t i v e he has on the events of the n o v e l , s t r u g g l e s to p i e c e out the m o t i v a t i o n s and manners hidden i n the morass of n a r r a t i o n , and thus becomes a p a r -t i c i p a t i n g agent i n the t r a n s m i s s i o n of human v a l u e s , good or bad, recorded i n f i c t i o n a l form. 1 1 THE TEXTURE OF VISION P u b l i s h e d c r i t i c i s m has d e s c r i b e d the genre char-a c t e r i s t i c s of each of the n a r r a t i v e s i n Absalom. Absalom I t has become commonplace to t a l k of Rosa's n a r r a t i v e as Gothic mystery, Mr. Compson's as c l a s s i c a l tragedy, Quen-t i n ' s as romance, and Shreve's as mock-epic or i r o n i c a l r o -mance. The d e t a i l s of t h i s a r e a of a n a l y s i s can be w e l l s t u d i e d i n the items l i s t e d i n my b i b l i o g r a p h y by S c o t t , V i c k e r y , J u s t u s , L e v i n s and MacMillan, to name only the most cogent. The p e r c e p t i o n s contained i n these d i f f e r e n t n a r r a t i v e s c o n s t i t u t e the " t h i r t e e n ways of l o o k i n g a t the b l a c k b i r d " a l l u d e d to i n my l a s t chapter; my purpose here i s to study the techniques by which the reader i s l e d to a r r i v e a t wfra^t-Flulkner c a l l s the r e a d e r ' s "own f o u r t e e n t h 2 2 7 image of the blackbird which Faulkner would like to think is the t r u t h . " 2 4 I have already pointed out that the different narratives are not kept clearly apart in this novel, as I showed them to be, for instance, in As I Lav Dying; on the contrary, they are interwoven so confusingly that i t takes a herculean effort on the reader's part to keep them separated in his own mind. At times he does so (e.g. when Rosa starts piling on the demonic imagery) and at other times he does not. The two functions (separating and not separating) have two completely different effects on the reader. Separation (i.e. awareness of the personal idiosyncracies of a particular narrative) throws some of the reader's attention off the core plot and onto the nar-rator, and then (incredible complexity!) back again onto the core plot as seen through that narrator's eyes. A small example may help to make this clear. Shreve is talking! "That this Faustus, this demon, this Beel-i.£•:•-<. zebub fled hiding from some momentary flash-ing glare of his Creditor's outraged face exasperated beyond a l l endurance, hiding, scuttling into respectability like a jackal into a rockpile, so she thought at f i r s t . . . ." (p.178) Here the mock-heroic p i l i n g up of allusions followed by the deflating image of the jackal makes us aware of Shreve's attitude to the events of this part of the legend, as well 228; as h i s a t t i t u d e to Rosa's a t t i t u d e to the same (and perhaps even of h i s a t t i t u d e to Mr. Compson's a t t i t u d e to the same). In other words, Shreve shows t h a t he f i n d s the Sutpen l e g -end f u l l of l u d i c r o u s l y F a u s t i a n events, and t h a t he f i n d s Rosa's view of Sutpen as a "demon" s i m i l a r l y r i d i c u l o u s . So the reader becomes aware of Shreve having fun a t the ex-pense of core c h a r a c t e r s and n a r r a t o r s ; but then I t h i n k the reader uses Shreve's p e r s p e c t i v e and t h i n k s f o r a moment tha t maybe t h i s i s the r i g h t way to view the whole s t o r y , so h i s a t t e n t i o n r e t u r n s once more from Shreve to the p l o t . T h i s s h u t t l i n g of a t t e n t i o n happens whenever we become a-ware of the p e r s o n a l f l a v o u r of one of the n a r r a t i v e s . The r e s u l t i n the reader's mind i s a p e r p e t u a l l y u n d e r l i n e d awareness t h a t the t r u t h i s s u b j e c t i v e * and t h a t each per-son s t r u g g l e s to a t t a i n h i s own image of i t ; t h a t t h i s p a r -t i c u l a r s u b j e c t i v e view may or may not be c l o s e to what the reader can a c c e p t f & r v h i m s e l f as t r u e ; t h a t only by c o n t i n -u a l s t r u g g l e i s there any p o s s i b i l i t y of advancement t o -wards c e r t a i n t y . At those other times when the reader does not separate o f f the p a r t i c u l a r n a r r a t i v e — a n d I agree with Le-v i n s i n b e l i e v i n g t h a t these times are by f a r the more com-mon 25--the e f f e c t i s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t . In these i n s t a n c e s a t t e n t i o n i s o b v i o u s l y focused more on the events of the 229 core plot than on the perceiving narrator. Or, to he more precise, the reader in these instances focuses on the nar- rative rather than the narrator; this distinction is impor-tant because there are certain characteristics common to a l l the narratives, and i t i s these characteristics that the reader i s aware of when he is not separating a par-ticular narrative. These characteristics make up the dominant s t y l i s t i c texture of the novel, and i t is the effect of this texture that I am mainly concerned with. In a careful study of the prose of Absalom. Ab- salom !, Zoellner arrives at some conclusions which are r e l -evant to my purpose. After analyzing the effects of cer-tain sentences on a reader, Zoellner concludes that "the prose style of Absalom, Absalom I neutralizes the reader's ingrained tendency to break up experience into convenient, logically divided parcels, hierarchically arranged for pain-less assimilation," and instead renders "the story of Thomas Sutpen . . . as a fact abstracted from any distinctions of past or present, or any qualitative distinctions of impor-tant or unimportant, an organic, monolithic mass which d i -rectly reflects Faulkner's concept of l i f e as a cumulative continuum."26 What Zoellner is talking about is the same thing as I am saying throughout this thesis, that the novel-i s t of vision uses style to offer his readers a unique basis 230 of realism—the ontology of his personal vision. The two strongest elements of this style function in Absalom, Ab- salom . are sentence structure (which I shall discuss in different terms than Zoellner does, though his study is also directly supportive of my thesis) and the use of motifs. a). Sentence Structure: The sustained peculiarity of sentence structure throughout the novel is i t s main factor of unity. What-ever page one turns to, there are the same marathon sen-tences, the same odd balance of doubly clear and then am-biguous prepositions, the same sentence fragments whose completion i s often more puzzling than custom normally allows. A l l this makes for d i f f i c u l t reading, which is precisely Faulkner's way of engaging us in the struggle. The structure of the sentences i s a tool of defamiliariza-tion, forcing the reader away from preconceived notions of what constitutes the reality of any given experience to that "aspect of the experience which is 'real' for Faulkner." 2 7 Length and complexity draw many elements together in the expression of very complex thought. This i s a technical, s t y l i s t i c equivalent to the theme of the interconnectedness of lives, discussed earlier. 2 3 1 Take, for example, the page-long sentence begin-ning "He didn't remember whether . . . " (pp.224-5, photo-copied in Appendix A, for the sake of showing how d i f f i c u l t i t is to read in the text). Quentin is recreating the ex-perience Sutpen had as a child of being cast out of the mountains into a world of "harsh rough faces" which i s to become the theatre Of his l i f e . The reader has to cor-relate and hold in suspension so many phrases, to get to the end of the sentence, that he l i t e r a l l y loses compre-hension of some of the parts along the way. This exper-ience of the sentence replicates the bewildering sequence of social encounters forced upon the Sutpen children during their journey. By the time they get down into their new society, the family members are altered in their outlook on l i f e ("attenuated" from'-one state to another); and sig-nificantly, we are told again and again over several sur-rounding pages, that Sutpen "didn't remember" what i t was exactly that caused the changes in him. The reader, in losing hold of parts of the sentence (not to mention para-graphs, pages, chapters), has an equivalent experience, of not remembering exactly how he got from A to B in the read-ing. Thus the sentence structure creates a concrete para-digm of i t s own theme, namely the only-half-comprehensible forces of human interaction on one human being. The 232 sentences in Absalom, A b s a l o m l i k e the lives of i t s char-acters, exist in confused waves of interacting parts. Faulkner himself made precisely this connection between lives and sentences in answer to the:iquery why he used long sentences in his books* ". . . to me no man is himself, he is the sum of his past. There is no such thing really as was because the past i s . It is a part of every man, every woman, and every moment. A l l of his or her ancestry, back-ground, i s a part of himself and herself at any moment. And so a man, a character in a story at any moment of action is not just himself as he is then, he is a l l that made him, and the long sentence i s an attempt to get;,his past and possibly his future into the instant in which he does something."28 If one returns to the text with this quotation in mind, i t becomes immediately noticeable that some of the longest and most unwieldy of the sentences not only provide a s t y l i s t i c paradigm of the theme of human interconnectedness, as I asserted above, but they also tend to state that theme in a direct way. To show what I mean without embarking on tediously long quotation, I need only refer to the quotations already used for other purposes of ill u s t r a t i o n in earlier portions of this chapter. To begin with, the chapter epigraph con-tains a very complicated and long sentence concerning the links between the heroic figures of the past and the lesser 2 3 3 figures of the present—different groups of humanity, but both s t i l l "people'* arid both "victims." Then the quotation about Bon on page 207 above contains a twelve-line sen-tence beginning "And not only that" which concerns the inter-connections of motive and influence between Bon and the peo-ple of his present and past environments. Again, on page 218 above, there's a long sentence quoted ("they are like . . .") which is crowded with disjunctive phrases, and which con-cerns the evidence which predecessors leave of their lives, for the liv i n g to decipher. On page 220 above, the long, rich sentence beginning "there was something curious" con-cerns specifically the interconnectedness and interaction of two lives. Finally the same thing happens again in the quotation on page 244 below, which contains only two— or with the semicolon taken as a period, three—sentences, each of them elaborate and tortuous, and each directly ex-pressing the desire human beings have to connect up with one another through lasting and comprehensible communication. In summary then, the complexity and length of the sentence structure not only force readers to struggle hard for insight into human motivations, but also express^ both paradigmatically and by cognitive statement, the theme of human interconnectedness. The sentence structure is a strikingly mannered tool of defamiliarization of the 2 3 4 experience r e t a i l e d a l s o by Faulkner's other f i c t i o n a l t e c h -n i q u e s . I t f u n c t i o n s to produce i n the reader a v i s i o n of the human community as a mass of i n t e r c o n n e c t e d p a r t s whose impact on one another i s complicated and d i f f i c u l t to under-stand. b ) . Motifs» There are obvious m o t i f s i n Absalom, Absalom., and l e s s obvious ones. The f i r s t group c o n s i s t s g e n e r a l l y of those m o t i f s which are g e n e r i c i n g r e d i e n t s i n one or other of the f o u r separate n a r r a t i v e s , such as the s e r i e s oft demon images i n Rosa's, or the a l l u s i o n s to mythology which are proper to Mr. Compson's t a l e of tragedy. The f u n c t i o n of these m o t i f s i s s e l f - e v i d e n t , once one accepts the g e n e r i c nature of the n a r r a t i v e s , and i n t h a t c o n t e x t i t has been adequately s t u d i e d i n the works mentioned a-bove which focus on genre. In most cases these m o t i f s f u n c t i o n with the s i m p l i c i t y and obviousness normally a s -s o c i a t e d with l i t e r a r y emblems. T h e i r f u n c t i o n i s p a r t of the l a r g e r f u n c t i o n i n which the reader " s e p a r a t e s " the n a r r a t i v e s ; t h a t i s , t h e i r use tends to i l l u m i n a t e or c a l l a t t e n t i o n to the n a r r a t o r s , r a t h e r than the n a r r a t i v e s or the core p l o t . For example Rosa's demon m o t i f , and Shreve's abuse of i t r e v e a l more about Rosa and Shreve than about the "demon" h i m s e l f , Sutpen. 235 The second and l e s s obvious group of m o t i f s i s common to a l l the n a r r a t i v e s , and t h i s f a c t sometimes c r e -ates an apparent weakness i n the f i c t i o n a l c o n s t r u c t . For i n s t a n c e , when we f i n d both Rosa and Mr. Compson employing b u t t e r f l y images i n d e s c r i b i n g E l l e n , or c a t images i n r e -l a t i o n to Bon, u n l e s s we are able to t h i n k t h a t one n a r r a t o r l e a r n e d the usage from the other, we are l e f t with a s l i g h t sense t h a t the f i c t i o n a l d i v i s i o n of c h a r a c t e r s has broken down; i t ' s as though the w r i t e r h i m s e l f has c r e p t i n t o the n a r r a t i v e , a l l o w i n g h i s s e n s i b i l i t y to invade and t h e r e f o r e j e o p a r d i z e the separate i d e n t i t i e s of these two separate n a r r a t o r s . However, t h i s u n f o r t u n a t e e f f e c t , where i t ex-i s t s a t a l l , i s produced only by those m o t i f usages t h a t are metaphoric and t h a t seem h i g h l y o r i g i n a l (such as the two mentioned). In the case of l e s s s u r p r i s i n g m o t i f s , such as the m o t i f s of horse and teeth (both a s s o c i a t e d with Sutpen) i t does not break the s u r f a c e of f i c t i o n when we f i n d both usages i n the accounts of both (or s e v e r a l ) nar-r a t o r s ; and the reason f o r t h i s i s t h a t these m o t i f s are rooted i n common p e r c e p t i o n s which make up the legend ( v i z : anybody c o u l d see Sutpen on h i s horse and remember the s i g h t ) , r a t h e r than being rooted i n o r i g i n a l metaphoric i n -v e n t i o n ( v i z : s u r e l y not everyone; thought of E l l e n as meta-morphosing through the stages of a b u t t e r f l y l i f e ) . F u r t h e r , 236 the sense of f i c t i o n a l breakdown does not a r i s e i n the nar-r a t i v e s of Quentin and Shreve, because i t ' s p e r f e c t l y c r e d -i b l e t h a t whatever m o t i f s appear i n t h e i r consciousnesses might w e l l have o r i g i n a t e d with Rosa or Mr, Compson and been a s s i m i l a t e d by the young men. In g e n e r a l the m o t i f usage i n Absalom, Absalom. i s f a r l e s s e l a b o r a t e than we f i n d i n the f i v e other n o v e l s here s t u d i e d . There are many m o t i f s used, and they occur with g r e a t frequency, but the v a r i a t i o n s i n which they appear are not many. The r e s u l t i s t h a t the technique mere-l y becomes a means of p o i n t i n g to the importance of c e r t a i n s u b j e c t s which are c o n s t a n t s i n the n o v e l ; i t i s not used mainly, as i n other n o v e l s , as a means of r e c o r d i n g change. One reason f o r t h i s i s t h a t there i s l i t t l e change i n the course of the p l o t . Consider, by c o n t r a s t with Absalom, The Man Who Died, i n which the rhythmic changes i n a per-son's l i f e c o n s t i t u t e the b a s i c n a r r a t i v e development, and about which I claimed t h a t one c o u l d f o l l o w e s s e n t i a l l y what was going on simply by o b s e r v i n g the m a n i p u l a t i o n of a s i n -g l e element i n the n a r r a t i v e t e x t u r e — t h e p l a n t m o t i f . Ab- salom i s a v e r y d i f f e r e n t case: with very few e x c e p t i o n s , the n a r r a t i v e , u n f o l d i n g p i e c e by p i e c e , does not f o l l o w the growth of a c h a r a c t e r . What i t does i s to open up an un-c h r o n o l o g i c a l k a l e i d o s c o p e o f p e r s p e c t i v e s onto a s t a t i c 237 legend. The motifs recur in mostly unaltering form within those perspectives, insistently placing certain elements in the legend before the reader. The f i r s t of these elements i s , of course, the nature of Thomas Sutpen. The main motifs which reveal him to the reader, and which occur in a l l the narratives, are motifs of house, horse,,and body (including especially face, teeth, beard, bones). The Sutpen who comes to Jefferson is practically the same man as the Sutpen who dies there, es-sentially unchanged even by the tragic rise and f a l l of his house. Consequently the motifs revealing him are unchanging throughout. Although the narrators and readers must strug-gle constantly to develop a f u l l picture of the man, he re-mains basically unchanging within each of these visions of him, even when the visions are in conflict with one another. The visions grow more comprehensive but they don't mutate. By means of the motifs of house and horse, which are scattered over many pages, Sutpen is associated with the South and his fate becomes symbolic of the South's fate. Surprisingly enough, not even the house appears to go through any powerful reversal. Faulkner presents the grand edifice of Sutpen's design as a "shell of a house" (p.42) at i t s beginning, and "a shell marooned and forgotten" (p.132) at it s end. There is never an evocation of i t s grandeur 238 except in the context of decay. It is never presented as the scene of fine l i v i n g which has ultimately "gone with the wind "butidonsisienily-as a dead, bleak house, a "rotten mausoleum" (p.350), "a huge quiet house" (p.26), containing "an incontrovertible affirmation for emptiness" (p.85). Thus it s degeneration i s implicit in i t s presentation throughout the novel, and in this respect the prose texture undercuts the potential of the novel for developing into the r i s e -turn-fall pattern of tragedy. The house motif helps to render a constant vision of the South's fate, Sutpen's fate. Before he has the house, Sutpen has only his horse over which to exercise proud dominion, and in this aspect too he is the representative proud Southern gentleman, re-taining even in old age "the finecold figure of the man who had once galloped on the black thoroughbred about that domain two boundaries of which the eye could not see from any point" (p.184). Man creates God in his own image, as the saying goes, and i f that's true, i t is interesting that General Comp-son thought of Sutpen on his horse as the image of God, " i f God himself was to come down and ride the natural earth" (p.282). When Wash Jones suddenly realizes his alienation from the whole Southern tradition—that i t has somehow let him down—he k i l l s Sutpen, then waits to be arrested by men "who had galloped also in the old days arrogant and proud".. 239 on the f i n e horses" ( p . 2 8 9 ) . I t ' s easy to see, without f u r t h e r e x p o s i t i o n , how the m o t i f s of house and horse keep "before us two aspects o f S u t p e n — p r i d e of p r o p e r t y and p r i d e o f b e a r i n g — w h i c h are cons t a n t s of h i s c h a r a c t e r and which make him a t y p i c a l r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of fundamental Southern v a l u e s . The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n g i v e n - t o those v a l u e s i n F a u l k n e r ' s v i s i o n c l e a r l y a l i e n a t e d a reviewer i n (of a l l p l a c e s ) The Boston T r a n s c r i p t : We doubt the s t o r y j u s t as we doubt the con-c l u s i o n t h a t the Jim Bonds and the descendants of the Jim Bonds w i l l ever c o n t r o l the coun-t r y . We do not doubt the e x i s t e n c e o f deca-dence, but we do doubt t h a t i t i s the most important or the most i n t e r e s t i n g f e a t u r e i n American l i f e , or even i n M i s s i s s i p p i l i f e . 2 9 T h i s r e s i s t a n c e t o Faul k n e r ' s v i s i o n once agai n evidences the dynamic c o n f l i c t which the no v e l of v i s i o n c r e a t e s be-tween w r i t e r and re a d e r . The t h i r d s et of m o t i f s mentioned, the body mo-t i f s , show the reader the q u a l i t y of the naked man, without horse, without p l a n t a t i o n or mansion. Faulkner uses espe-c i a l l y the m o t i f o f t e e t h w i t h i n the f a c e — s o m e t i m e s con-c e a l e d , sometimes j u t t i n g out i n d e f i a n c e or i r o n i c h a l f - s m i l e — to convey the constant of p e r s o n a l r e s o l u t e n e s s i n Sutpen*s c h a r a c t e r . When E l l e n embarrasses him p u b l i c a l l y i n the s t a b l e , he stands i n s i l e n t h u m i l i a t i o n before the crowd of d i s p e r s i n g guests, "with h i s te e t h showing beneath h i s 240 beard" (p.30). At another moment of humiliation, when the crowd is pelting the newly-married couple with di r t and rotten vegetables, Sutpen draws his bride to his side and stands "motionless, with an expression almost of smiling where his teeth showed through the beard" (p.57)» while the refuse dirties him and knocks his wedding hat off. At times he hides his teeth, as though angrily acknowledging that he is up against forces which he cannot fight ( i . e . bite!). One such instance is the moment when he discovers that;rhis last, desperate attempt to sire a new son has failed. The midwife reports that he stood there for a minute and he didn't move at a l l , with the riding whip against his leg and the lattices of sunlight from the unchinked wall f a l l i n g upon him, across his white hair and his beard that hadn't turned at a l l yet, and she said she saw his eyes and then his teeth inside his beard and that she would have run then only she couldn't, (p.286) Similarly, in confrontations with Bon, the agent of his nemesis, the latter notices that Sutpen relies on his beard to screen the rest of the face (p.321), The last image of Sutpen's body again contains the teeth motif: And that night they f i n a l l y found him and  fetched him home in a wagon and carried him,  quiet and bloody and with his teeth s t i l l  showing in his parted beard, (p. 185) From these examples we can see how the motif does not change because i t i s used to light up a constant of Sutpen's char-acter. 241 Another body motif, which is used in a rather i n -teresting way, is the contrasting motif of;bone-face/flesh-face which imagistically expresses the contrast asserted between Sutpens and Coldfields. The bone-face is associ-ated with Sutpen and his line, the flesh-face with the Gold-fi e l d s , Rosa emphasizes the contrast between the two types of people in her confrontation with Clytie, whose face she repeatedly labels a "Sutpen facei" . . • we seemed to glare at one another not  as two faces but as the two abstract contra- dictions which we actually were, (p.138) Mr. Compson perceives the uneasy mixture of the two "abstract contradictions" Rosa mentions here, when he looks into the aging face of Judith- (who of course i s both a Sutpen and a Coldfield): "Not thin now but gaunt, the Sutpen skull showing indeed now through the worn, the Coldfield, flesh, the face which had long since forgotten ]aow to be young and yet ab-solutely impenetrable." (p.126) The meaning of this symbolism of bone and flesh i s impossible to f i x ; obviously the Sutpen bone-face is in some way hard and unyielding, while the Coldfield flesh-face i s softer and destructible. It's interesting that Ellen (Coldfield) is seen to have no bones, for her l i f e diminishes "as the butterfly i t s e l f enters dissolution by actually dissolving" (p«85)» with the shrinkage of flesh leaving not a skeleton, 242 but "the substanceless shell" (p.126). And in such wish-f u l f i l l i n g fantasies of love as Rosa allows herself, she yearns for God somehow to provide her with a face which "would not even need a skull behind i t ; almost anonymous, i t would only need vague inference of some walking flesh and blood" (p.l47). Thus Rosa once again reinforces the association of flesh-face with the Coldfields; and by her relinquishing the need of a skull in her fantasy lover's face, she, as i t were, rejects Sutpen. (As I said, I find these usages of the motif by Rosa and in regard to Ellen, interesting; but I am no closer to a definition of the symbolic meaning of the motif, beyond -the general dis-tinction suggested above.) The motifs, then, focus attention on constants in the plot. Sutpen is a face with teeth i n i t , as well as "the fine proud image of the man on the fine proud image of the stallion" (p.287). Ellen i s a butterfly or "unreal and weightless l i f e " (p.106). Bon i s a "lazy and catlike man" (p.102) who manipulates Henry "with that cold and cat-like inscrutable calculation" (p.110). And so on. The main changes in the novel are changes of perspective to motivation; the motifs record a consistency of appearance and character. Where change does occur?.in a character, and i t rarely does, sometimes a motif i s used to render that 243 change. Thus for instance the Sutpen/bone motif associ-ation is used to record the change involved in Sutpen's f i n a l decline into squalori Something between the shape of him that people knew and the uncompromising skeleton of what he Actually was had gone .fluid, (p.81) Apart from these slight records of change, the motifs pro-vide a means of insisting that the reader keep looking at the enigmas of character and motivation, which are the sub-jects of the struggle for vision. I've tried to show that the process of vision in Absalom, Absalom l deeply engages the reader in a struggle to see. The texture of the prose i s highly unconventional, and prevents us from simply experiencing the story in pre-conceived and familiar terms. I cannot agree with James Guetti who finds in Absalom evidence of the inevitable f a i l -ure of human imagination, the "supposed struggle" of which "could only be revealed metaphorically." 3 0 On the contrary I find the novel to be a practical exercise in the a f f i r -mative use of human imagination to dignify l i f e , by really struggling to understand even i t s most confusing and tangled f i c t i o n a l constructs. In her own half-articulate way, 244 Judith Sutpen expresses the nature and significance of the process of vision, when she hands Quentin's grandmother her letter from Bon, and uses concepts she has learned from Bon himself to explain why she i s making this gesture of communication! "You get horn and you try this and you dont know why only you keep on trying i t and you are horn at the same time with a lot of other people, a l l mixed up with them, like trying to, having to, move your arms and legs with strings only the same strings are hitched to a l l the other arms and legs and the others a l l trying and they dont know why either ex-cept that the strings are a l l in one another's way like five or six people a l l trying to make a rug on the same loom only each one wants to weave his own pattern into the rug; and i t cant matter, you know that, or the Ones that set up the loom would have arranged things a l i t t l e better, and yet i t must matter because you keep on trying or having to keep on trying and then a l l of a sudden i t ' s a l l over and a l l you have l e f t i s a block of . stone with scratches on i t provided there was someone to remember to have the marble scratched and set up or had time to, and i t rains on i t and the sun shines on i t and after a while they dont even remember the name and what the scratches were trying to t e l l , and i t doesn't matter. And so maybe i f you could go to someone, the stranger the better, and give them something--a scrap of paper—some-thing, anything, i t not to mean anything in i t s e l f and them not even to read i t or keep i t , not even bother to throw i t away or de-stroy i t , at least i t would be something just because i t would have happened, be remembered even i f only from passing from one hand to an-other, one mind to another, and i t would be at least a scratch, something, something that might make a mark on something . . . ." (p.127) 245 Judith deduces here that to go on l i v i n g must be worth while, simply "because you keep on trying or having to keep on trying," and she sees the fact that one kept on trying as needing to be recorded in a rememberable (even i f not in a comprehensible) way, so that the l i f e that was lived might have some enduring value in the memories of those who survive i t . This exactly describes the pro-cess of struggling to see which both narrators and reader are engaged in in this novel. Even Mr. Compson, perhaps the least optimistic of a l l the narrators, affirms the value of such struggle; for in attempting "to reconstruct the causes that led up to the actions of men and women," he finds "with a sort of astonishment," that he i s "now and then reduced to the belief, the only possible belief, that they~stemmed from some of the old virtues" (p.121). 246 FOOTNOTES Page references incorporated i n the text are to the 1964, Random House e d i t i o n . 2 Faulkner i n the University, pp. 272-273. 3 Faulkner i n the University, pp. 191-192. 4 Vickery, p. 91. ^ Irving Howe, William Faulkner1 A C r i t i c a l Study (19521 r p t . 2nd ed. New York* Vintage, 1962), p. I65. 6 Michael Millgate, The Achievement of William Faulkner (New Yorki Random House, 1966), p. 164. 7 Walter J. S l a t o f f , Quest fo r Failure 1 A Study of  William Faulkner (Ithaca, N. Y.1 C o r n e l l U. Press, i 9 6 0 ) , p. 201, 8 Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending! Studies i n  the Theory of F i c t i o n (New Yorki Oxford U. Press, 1967), p. 55. ^ Kermode, p. 164. 1 0 Lynn G. Levins, "The Four Narrative Perspectives i n Absalom. Absalom 1 ? " PMLA. 85 (January 1970), 35-^7. 1 1 James Guetti, The Limits of Metaphort A Study of  M e l v i l l e . Conrad, and Faulkner (Ithaca, N. Y.i Cornell U. Press, 1967), p. 101. 1 2 Guetti, pp. 75-76. *3 S l a t o f f , p. 201. l Z f S l a t o f f , p. 202. 1 5 Arthur M i l l e r , A f t e r The F a l l (New Yorki Viking, 1964), p. 128. 1 6 Faulkner i n the University, p. 273. 1 7 U s e Dusoir Lind, "The Design and Meaning of Absalom. Absalom!." PMLA. 70 (December 1955), 889. See also Guetti, p. 70. 18 See Levins, 36. 247 1 9 E. g. see Levins, 36, quote. 2 0 Vickery, p. 9 0 . 2 1 Kenneth D. MacMillan, "The Bystander i n Faulkner's F i c t i o n , " Diss. University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1972, p. 74. 22 Faulkner i n the University, p. 274. 2 3 William Faulkneri The Yoknapatawpha Country (19631 r p t . New Haveni Yale U. Press,- S 1966), p. 431 . 24 . Faulkner i n the University, p. 274. 2 ^ Levins, 36 . 2 ^ Robert H. Zoellner, "Faulkner's Prose st y l e i n Absalom. Absalom!." AL, 30 (January 1959), 491 , 501-502. 2 7 Zoellner, 499 . 2 8 Faulkner i n the University, p. 84. 2 9 The Boston Transcript (31-Getober 1936), p. 6 . 3 0 Guetti, p. 108. CHAPTER SEVEN FORM AS THEMEt THE VISION OF ALIENATION IN THE AUNT'S STORY Her breath beat. The walls were bending outward under the pressure of the hateful f i r e . Then, when the table screamed under her nails., he said quietly, "Ah, Theodora Goodman, you are torn in two."1 In The Aunt's Story, Patrick White takes us into the world of a profoundly alienated woman who holds so ten-aciously to her vision of reality that she ends up choosing quite calmly to acdept that she is insane. This f i c t i o n a l experience of the progress of alienation to i t s c h i l l i n g l y placid conclusion cannot help but profoundly disturb any rational reader who accepts the vision which the book offers. Not surprisingly, some c r i t i c s have tried to dismiss the vision, either by faulting White's workmanship (e.g. "a complete lack of a r t i s t i c restraint" 2) or else by arguing that Theodora i s not representative of humanity at large. 3 Other c r i t i c s have been content merely to describe White's use of Homer and of Rasselas. 4 without going much into the effects of techniques used, on the reader. To my mind, the techniques of The Aunt's Story are unusually successful in 249 retailing White's vision to the reader, that i s , in forcing the reader to experience what i t feels like to he "torn in two," as Theodora i s . This experience of an alienating duality is the theme of the novel. I shall try to show how White uses a number of techniques to render that theme as the form of the reader's experience, not just at the level of concept or cognition. These techniques are« The exter-nal structure ( i . e . the form of the objective narrative); the internal structure ( i . e . the form of the subjective nar-rative made up of Theodora's thoughts); the pattern of re-currence of the Theodora "archetype;" the use of motifs and e l l i p t i c a l syntax. i THE EXTERNAL STRUCTURE The structure of the objective narrative is that of a quest in three parts, corresponding to the three Part divisions of the bookt^ a phase of tension and conflict leading to the commencement of the quest; a phase of weary seeking, without fulfilment; f i n a l l y , a r r i v a l , discovery, fulfilment. Part One consists of a recapitulation of Theo-dora's l i f e up to the point of her mother's death. The strange stick of a g i r l , always socially inept, grows up to become a lonely, middle-aged spinster. Her father has died, 250 her sister has married and gone away, the family farm has been sold and most of the possessions auctioned off, and Theodora now leads a constricted suburban l i f e caring for her widowed mother who hates her. Her muted, genteel af-f a i r with the aging widower Huntly Clarkson f i z z l e s out for lack of "anything further to give" (p.128). A growing sense of unease f i n a l l y produces in Theodora the desperate realization that her l i f e lacks something which her immed-iate environment cannot provide. She wants to scream, "Aaahhhhhhhhhhh l" (p.127) but doesn't. She contemplates murdering her mother, but doesn't. She i s ready to begin her quest, but doesn't know how, doesn't even know what she needs to find. And then, when Mrs. Goodman does f i n a l l y die (in the opening words of the novel), she finds herself for the f i r s t time in her l i f e "possessed" by freedom (p.10), which she doesn't know how to use. Nevertheless, she leaves Australia for Europe. In Part Two, we find her arriving at the approp-riately named H§tel duiMidi in the South of France, utterly disillusioned after her travels, but s t i l l waiting, and with hope not quite extinguished! S t i l l there w i l l always be people, Theodora Goodman said, and she continued to wait with something of the superior acceptance of ma-hogany for fresh acts. ( p . l 4 l ) 251 She has chosen this hotel because i t s brochure advertised a .iardin exotique, and we are given the vague information that she "considered i t s possibility" (p.l4l). As she walks hopefully into the jardin. the narrator reminds us that a l l her many goals had been deceptive, especially "the goth-ic shell of Europe, in which there had never been such a buying and selling, of semi-precious aspirations, bull's blood, and stuffed doves, the stone arches cracked, the aching wilderness, in which the ghosts of Homer and St, Paul and Tolstoy waited for the crash" (p.146), The garden turns out to be a harsh, destructive place (developed as a wasteland symbolic of the world), and i t affords her no profit; neither does the "gothic shell" of the hotel and i t s ghostlike guests, A f i r e destroys the hotel, and only the persistent .iardin remains amid the smoky ruins, Theodora's travels have come to nothing, and she vaguely supposes she w i l l return to Australia, which she calls "Abyssinia" now, since the geographical world has become as unreal to her as her father's tales of the Abys-sinian Meroe were when she was a child l i v i n g on the farm called Meroe. In Part Three, her §uest at last takes i t s suc-cessful turn. Theodora escapes from the "normal" world of duality to the single plane of her private vision. 252 Somewhere in America she steps off a train into the pre-dawn darkness and begins to strip herself of labels of i d -entity—name, papers and so on. She i s given a meal at a lonely farmhouse, but doesn't stay there because the clock on the mantelpiece somehow symbolizes for her that this house i s not her proper environment (p.287). She walks to a deserted house, where she feels at home and where she ex-pects "some ultimate moment of clear vision" (p.290). And indeed, this does come to her, in the hallucinatory figure of Holstius. Through her conversations with him, her psychic balance becomes strangely altered, so that she i s able to adopt an attitude of complete acceptance and com-posure in the face of the paradoxes and tensions which have tortured her mind for decades. Completely at peace, her quest somehow f u l f i l l e d , she allows the doctor to take her off to the asylum. (Throughout the three parts of her quest, Theo-dora has from time to time encountered people with whom she has a limited rapport: this part of the objective narrative I ' l l discuss in detail later.) i i THE INTERNAL STRUCTURE Interwoven with the objective narrative just out-lined, i s the subjective account of Theodora's consciousness. 253 The narrator i s omniscient, and shuttles back and forth with-out warning between the two (i.e . the objective view, and Theodora's subjective view). This shuttling of the per-ceptual base provides the reader with a textual correlative to Theodora's confusion about i l l u s i o n and r e a l i t y — h e r perception of an inherent cosmic dualism. And the propor-tions change through the storyi the subjective account becomes preponderant towards the end, as Theodora goes deeper and deeper into the world of isolated vision. Having sketched the "facts" of the story in the summary of the ex-ternal structure, I how turn to the far more complicated account, the internal structure of the subjective rendering. It i s a structure which creates the effect of a camera lens zooming down onto a subject. The subject in this case i s the entire world which Theodora experiences, a world of consistently dual aspect which cannot be fused into a single reality or "landscape" (p.83). Our f i r s t sight of the dual subject i s (to continue the camera meta-phor) a long shot: through Theodora, we perceive the dual-ity dimly and only occasionally, set in a broad context of l i f e experiences (in Part One). Then as we move in closer and closer (especially in Part Two), the image of duality becomes brighter, clearer, and i t s two facets become more and more d i f f i c u l t to contain within a single focus. 2 5 4 Ultimately, identifying with Theodora, we have to choose one or the other facet: that i s , in Part Three Theodora's consciousness has zoomed close up to the subject of d u a l i t y — so close that she must take one facet or the other as her subject, her reality, but not both. I shall spend the next several pages analyzing the particular details of this com-plex structure. At the beginning of her l i f e story, we are shown Theodora's occasional fascination with mysteries: There was a small pale grub curled in the heart of the rose. She could not look too long at the grub-thing s t i r r i n g as she opened the petals to the light . . . . Theodora had not yet learnt to dispute the apparently in-disputable. But she could not condemn her pale and touching grub. She could not sub-tract i t from the sum total of the garden. So, without arguing, she closed the rose. ( p . 2 l ) This passage has an added significance from the fact that roses are a major motif in the novel, as I shall show. At this point Theodora simply finds inexplicable things—a bug in a rose—and puzzles over them. Unlike Fanny, her younger ouSK sister who "would always^the questions that have answers (p.40), she is increasingly attracted to the "great deal that never got explained" (p.39). When Gertie Stepper, the servant, t e l l s her that certain knowledge "isn't for l i t t l e g i r l s , " Theodora looks forward to when she w i l l be old e-nough "to know everything . . . to wrap i t up and put i t 255 in a box, . . .but un t i l this time things floated out of reach. She put out her hand, they bobbed and were gone" (p . 4o ) . But already, in this f i r s t chapter of her story (Chapter 2), her curiosity and puzzlement lead her to a startling experience of duality. She is questioning her father's former friend, The Man who was Given his Dinner, about his hobo l i f e . Asked why he looks for gold, he re-plies that " i t is as good a way of passing your l i f e as any other'' (p.41), which sparks off in Theodora a sudden in-version of vision, a kind of Joycean epiphany in which the "normal" appearance of reality is momentarily destroyedi It made the walls dissolve, the stone walls of Mero'e*, as f l a t as water, so that the peo-ple s i t t i n g inside were now exposed, treadling a sewing machine, baking a loaf, or adding up accounts. (p . 4 l ) This experience quickly passes. In a moment Theodora be-comes preoccupied with the practical question of whether or not her parents are going to give this man any food. In the few minutes remaining of her contact with the man, Theo-dora suspects that he is perhaps mad, loves him for his madness (p.45), and becomes certain that she w i l l not see him again (p.46). These perceptions prefigure the rest of her l i f e : she w i l l go mad, and she w i l l f a i l to establish any permanent human relationship. And she comes to these conclusions right after he t e l l s her that her capacity for 256 vision may "break" hen "You'll see a lot of funny things, Theo-dora Goodman. You'll see them because you've eyes to see. And they'll break you. But perhaps you'll survive." (p.45) What started out as mere curiosity about mysteries has now been defined for her as the vision which w i l l ultimately tear her in two. The remaining four chapters of Fart One repeat and expand the elements established in Chapter Two, creat-ing a pattern. In each chapter, Theodora recognizes, more and more, the mysterious nature of existence, and she is troubled by her inability to resolve the mysteries, and bridge the ambivalent poles of her vision. What's more, she senses, with overtones of fear and rejection, that the nature of her consciousness sets her apart from her acquaintances! She began to feel old and oracular listening to Frank Parrott's voice, as i f she didn't belong. There was this on one side, the l i f e of men keeping sheep and making money, and on the other, herself and Meroe". She was as remote as stone from the figures in the f i r s t landscape, (p.83) Even her one intimate friend at school, Violet Adams, has a different view of l i f e , Theodora sadly notesi Theodora looked, over the heads of Lottie and Grace, and saw she had l e f t Violet Adams be-hind. It was less melancholy than inevitable. She did not love Violet less. They would s t i l l walk linked through the long grass at dusk, and hate the intruder, but Theodora knew she 257 would also prefer sometimes to risk the darkness and walk alone, (p.57) She realizes here that Violet i s a sentimentalist who w i l l not face l i f e honestly—a judgment that i s confirmed later when Violet paints a picture of a flooding river» "but in gentler mood, before i t was in flood" (p.62), and then city of [her] rendering." Her sense of alienation caused by her special vision i s partly offset by a sense of kinship with certain people—her father, Violet Adams to a degree, Moraitis. They help to confirm in her "the pure abstract pleasure of knowing" (p.114), but they do not ease the loneliness, for they go away. With her father's death she i s l e f t unpro-tected from the inner tension of her dual vision, and soon finds i t impossible to accept the social "reality" of the world of her would-be lover, Huntly Clarkson. Like Liese-lotte in Part Two, Theodora would like to "hack at the screaming canvases" (p.l?6) of appearance and discover a world of reliable truth. White renders her commitment to the world of her private vision in a powerful scene of sym-bolic projectioni Theodora shoots the heads off clay ducks at a f a i r , leaving Huntly and his friends sombrely aware "that she was separated from them forever by something that their smooth minds would not grope towards" (p.125). Through 258 this act of destruction she asserts her commitment to a vision of l i f e which w i l l alienate her fromothers, and which w i l l ultimately torment her with i t s irreconcilable duality. The last sentence of Part One indicates her degree of pro-gress away from the social norm, the condition in which she feels the need to embark on her questi I shall go, said Theodora, I have already gone. The simplicity of what ultimately happens hollowed her out. She was part of a surprising world in which hands, for reasons no longer obvious, had put tables and chairs, (p.137) What began as puzzling over a bug in a rose has now de-veloped into a consuming doubt about reality, right down to the raison d'etre of furniture. Simply to go somewhere may bring some clarifying new insight. Part Two contains the second movement in the de-velopment of Theodora's alienation, and the inner, sub-jective account of consciousness becomes quite elaborate and confusing. On a second reading one realizes that the five chapters f a l l into two partsi The f i r s t three chapters present the morning, afternoon and night of Theodora's f i r s t day at the H6*tel du Midi, during which she meets and talks with each of the residents. Almost a l l of these people are alter ego figures« they are specimens of what she partly is and what she could become—or, in the case of Katina Pavlou, what she was. They are sensitive people who have 259 been subjected to experiences of enormous frustration, disillusionment, terrible violence, and fear, and, like Theodora, they feel alienated from the world and in need of communication. Thus they a l l pounce on Theodora as soon as they can, to see what comfort or sympathy they can wring out of her. And from her own experiences of frustration and alienation, Theodora can immediately identify these other "burnt ones" (—a term often used in White to des-ignate the tormented, and the t i t l e of his collected short stories): Theodora sat. Confident her intuition would identify, she waited for Lieselotte to appear. As she had suspected, Lieselotte was a snowdrop, quivering but green veined. De-pravity had tortured the original wax. (p.17*0 "There i s no denying that I am an a r t i s t . " "Or an old clown," said Theodora, who knew by revelation the way that Alyosha Sergei could somersault through a house, and how she was tired walking up and down, emptying his f u l l ashtrays, and mopping up the l i t t l e damp patches where his thought dripped, (p.177) As i s hinted in this last quotation, she is even able to project herself imaginatively into the former lives of these people.^ Thus she lives out in daydream the inner r e a l i t i e s which she perceives behind the outer appearance of their l i v e s . And in each case she discovers the same desperate sadness with which she herself i s so familiar: The landscape was a state of interminable being, hope and despair devouring and 260 disgorging endlessly, and the faces, whether Katina Pavlou, or Sokolnikov, or Mrs. Rapallo, or Wetherby, only slightly different aspects of the same state, (p.188) Though Theodora engages sympathetically with these other suspended lives of the Hfttel du Midi, by the end of her f i r s t day there she progresses beyond the range of any real companionship with them, because she penetrates the facades behind which they hide away from the challenge of their consciousness and experience. The af f a i r of the nautilus shell marks the end of her hope for companionship. She sees, in the symbolic shell, the fragile quality of their self deceptions ("Her heart turned in her side, be-cause, she knew, the nautilus i s made to break" fp.224|.) "It is not surprising at a l l , Alyosha Sergei," she says of the shell he has sent her to steal as though i t were the g r a i l . "On the contrary," he finds i t "fantastic" (p.223). Holding i t in his hands, he i s transported back to childhood. Mrs. Rapallo and the General engage in their desperate, childish struggle to possess the object, and when, inevitably, i t smashes, they depart in mortification. For Theodora, the shell i s just "the slight white rime" in the carpet. She has passed beyond their level of consciousness to a deeper:', isolation. The day began with a hope of relationship ( " S t i l l there w i l l always be people" j j p . l 4 l . J ) , and now ends with that hope gone. "Theodora herself f e l t considerably re-duced" (p.225). Her quest is getting her nowhere. 261 For the last two chapters of Part Two, Theodora f a l l s back on her role as "aunt" and focuses her attention exclusively on Katina Pavlou, who reminds her of her niece Lou, in more than just the similarity of names. At the beginning of Chapter Ten, Katina i s s t i l l very naive and innocent, and her protection becomes Theodora's last chance for finding a social role which w i l l involve her meaning-f u l l y in the human community. Ironically, both the reader and Theodora are aware, i f they choose to be conscious of i t , that anything she does for Katina i s not going to solve her anguish or integrate her into the wasteland world. But her interest in Katina engages the imagination above the level of irony, when we realize that her protectiveness is a gesture of wish-fulfilment. In attempting to protect Ka-tina, Theodora i s in fact dramatizing her own agony—her yearning that l i f e ' s cup be not so bi t t e r . She wishes that she could have remained in the innocence of childhood, i n -stead of becoming, through her lucid consciousness and her honesty, one of the "burnt ones." At times she realizes that the pain is inevitable for Katina, and she feels i t as "also necessarily hers" (p.238). Apart from her brief attendance to the confessions of Sokolnikov and Mrs. Rapallo, Theodora is totally preoc-cupied with the protection of the innocent throughout these 262 two chapters. Only in relation to Katina does Theodora's sympathetic imagination now engage in the daydreams. And she sees every event and character exclusively in the light of Katina's vulnerability. Her role as protectress i s , of course, a foredoomed failure. Even Sokolnikov knows i t w i l l not succeed, and that i t w i l l bring no comfort to Theodora herselfi "You can also create the i l l u s i o n of other people," he warns her, "but once created, they choose their own r e a l i t i e s " (p.250). Hesitating at f i r s t , because Sokol-nikov' s words "had made her doubt," she nevertheless rushes off to see i f she can stop Wetherby from seducing Katina. The seduction breaks Katina*s innocence, and when Theodora finds her eventually, the imagined roles of aunt and niece have changed—they have even reversed slightly, for Katina has at least "been inside the tower" (of sexual experience) (p.252), and can report to her spinster virgin friend that inside "there is nothing, nothing, • . . there i s a smell of rot and emptiness" (p.253)» Katina now exhibits the same willingness "to know" which the child Theodora had shown, and which was the f i r s t evidence of her alienating vision* "You know, Miss Goodman, when one i s glad for something that has happened, something nause-ating and painful, that one did not suspect. It i s better f i n a l l y to know." (p.253) 263 Katina has entered "the landscape . . . of interminable being" referred to earlier. She now is on the way to be-coming another Theodora. Fire burns the hotel, bringing a convenient end to a relationship of protectiveness which has already been outgrown. With the shattering of her hopes for Katina, Theodora now has nowhere to turn. Both women announce their intentions to depart, but whereas Katina makes practical plans (train ticket, money,food) to return to her "own country" (p.264), Theodora has "not thought yet" where she w i l l go to. She would like to "return" to the Abyssinian Meroe' (p.265), but doesn't know where to find i t . Conse-quently, in Part Three, we find Theodora's vision turning more and more inward. Although she might appear to have some purpose for sitting on a train somewhere in the middle of America, yet "in spite of outer appearances, Theodora Goodman suggested that she had retreated into her own dis-tance and did not intend to come out" (p.269). She cannot bring herself to talk to her garrulous fellow-traveller. Indeed, one of the striking things about Part Three is that Theodora says so l i t t l e in i t . The only conversations in which she engages (beyond the barest minimum requirement of politeness) are with the boy Zack and the hallucinatory figure Holstius—two versions of herself, so to speak. To 264 Mrs. Johnson, who takes her in and feeds her, she says barely a word, except to mention Holstius and to enquire about Zack. Her unwillingness to speak is a negative indica-tion of her withdrawal into the world of private r e a l i t y . But White manages to give a very positive rendering of this withdrawal, without compromising either the solitude or the passivity which he has so carefully built up as aspects of her f i n a l state. This positive expression is the existence of the Holstius figure. In developing Holstius, White provides Theodora with a means of exhibiting her state of mind directly and dramatically, yet without emerging from her cocoon of uncommunicative isolation. She accepts Hol-stius as her mentor: with him she stands as the "we" over against the "they" of the rest of the world. The reader knows better, and realizes that she has no communication outside of her own mind. She i s talking to herself, and answering herself through "Holstius." And in her very last state in the novel, she no longer even needs the visible projection of Hostius. "His moral support was assured. Now his presence was superfluous" (p . 3 0 0 ) . The tone of Theo-dora's self-assurance here i s so calm, and the "lucidity" (p.301) of her consciousness i s so appealing, that the reader naturally tends to identify with her, rather than 265 with the "they" people around her (e.g. the doctor, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, etc.). By interweaving the subjective and objective narratives, and by structuring them so that the subjective becomes dominant as the novel progresses, Patrick White has subtly induced us to accept Theodora's total alienation. Since reading the book necessarily i n -volves identification with Theodora, any rational person who really opens his sensibility to the terms of reality in White's vision must surely finish the reading profound-ly disturbed. We put down the book and wait for i t to go away. i i i THE THEODORA "ARCHETYPE" The pattern of Theodora's l i f e recurs in others, particularly in the three children with whom she feels "the triumph of the rare alliances" (p.283). She has sensed the alliance before, in her father, The Man who was Given his Dinner, MoraTtis and others; but after the beginning of her quest (i.e . after her mother's death) i t i s an ex-perience specially related to Lou, Katina Pavlou, and Zack. In them she sees images of herself as she was, an innocent, sensitive to the mysteries of l i f e , and desiring to probe those mysteries. The recognition i s mutual: Lou says, for 266 instance, "I wish I was you, Aunt Theo, . . . because you know things" (p.136). And Zack i s special among the John-sons because he i s the only, one who "had sensed the sig-nificance" (p.299) of the black rose on her hat—evidently a symbol of Theodora's bleak, solitary core. In relating warmly to these children, in wishing to protect them from the alienating effects of lucid vision, Theodora engages the reader's sympathy not just for herself, but for a cer-tain type of person of which she and the children are rep-resentative. The significance of her l i f e story thus be-comes applicable to a group or class of humanity (the "burnt ones") of whom she i s the archetypal model. The recurrence of the type throughout the novel helps to universalize (or at least expand) i t s significance. The recurrence works also by means of variations to reveal Theodora's own pro-gress from naive childhood to the maturing of alienation. The progress i s evident in changes in Theodora's attitude to the recurrent figures. In her last meeting with Lou, Theodora recognizes sadly that "there is no l i f e l i n e to other lives" (p.137), but she s t i l l has her arm around the child as "a formal gesture of protection." She feels the pressure of Lou's body, and "the breath that was almost her own." At the last she warns Lou against d i s i l l u s i o n -ment, t e l l i n g her that the mysteries of l i f e do not open up 267 to the kind of understanding Lou desires to have. This i s her last act of protection for her niece, but her protective arm moves from Lou to Katina in her f i r s t meeting with the latter (p.151 "In her arms the child's body, s t i l l limp with sleep, was/like her own nakedness."). But after the incident in the tower, Theodora's attitude to her protegee changes, as I have shown, and she ceases even to make formal gestures of protection. Inasmuch as Theodora identifies with the g i r l , she realizes that there is no retreat to innocence from the reality of her mature vision, and that is why she relinquishes her. She;herself cannot return to innocence, and Katina cannot stay there—has already begun to emerge to mature torment. Protection i s useless. From the burning hotel, Katina emerges "with her hands out-stretched, protecting herself with her hands, not so much from substance, as from some other f i r e " (p.363 my emphasis). In one sense, Theodora and Katina are now equals, both hav-ing been burnt by the fires of l i f e . More precisely, Katina has reached the f i r s t stage of maturity—Theodora's stage at the end of Part One. For Katina s t i l l has hopes of finding her "own country" (p.264), while Theodora i s at a second stage of maturity! she i s so bereft of hope, so weary and resigned to the inevitability of "the sequence of events" that she cannot even offer Katina the dubious comfort of 268 physical contact or verbal sympathy, as she had been able to do for Lou earlier. Finally, when the evolution of the "burnt one" appears to be complete, ironically, the pattern begins again with Zack, the innocent with f i r e s s t i l l in store for him. She picks him out from the other children at f i r s t sight (p.281), and when he talks with her in the washroom she feels "a pact" i s born between them (p. 2 8 3 ) . Their encounter is like her own childhood encounter with The Man who was Given his Dinner. Just as she knew The Man would not return despite his promise, so now she sees Zack accepting the f i n a l i t y of her departure, "taking i t for granted" (p.288). Because he i s at an earlier stage of de-velopment than Katina at the beginning of Part Two, and even of Lou at the end of Part One, she is able to offer him the comfort of simple physical contact. However, her touch i s no longer protective—in fact we are not sure whether her touch is comforting, or whether i t is seeking comfort from the memory of childhood and innocence: He had rubbed his cheek against her cheek., Their blood flowed together. Her desperate words, ordinarily dry, had grown quite sud-denly fleshy and ripe. Their locked hands lay in solid silence. "If I go," she asked, " w i l l you remember me Zack?" (p.288) The recurrence of these Theodora figures is never obtrusively a r t i f i c i a l , yet i t f a l l s into a pattern 2 6 9 which can be shown schematically. There are approximately five stages of growth between innocence and total alienation, representing simply different degrees of experience of dual-i t y . SCHEME. STAGE I Zack of Part Three Theodora in early childhood of  early Part One STAGE II Lou at end of Part One Katina at beginning of Part Two Theodora at school, of middle Part One STAGE III Katina of end of Part Two Theodora of end of Part One STAGE IV (Mr. Goodman) (Moraitis) (The Man who was Given his Dinner) Theodora of end of Part Two STAGE V Theodora of Part Three 2?0 One dimension of the plot of The Aunt's Story i s the inter-action of the lives of these various figures. Theodora's progress from one stage to the next is highlighted for the reader when she encounters people who are behind her; also, as the pattern becomes established (even i f unconsciously) in the reader's mind, he w i l l tend to make retrospective comparisons. For instance, he w i l l be able to recognize at the end of Part Two, where Theodora is at Stage IV, that The Man who was Given his Dinner was himself at Stage IV when she was at Stage I, back in the second chapter of the book. The Aunt's Story t e l l s us only one of the many stories of which we have caught certain moments as they crossed Theodora's story. The perpetuation of the archetype is suggested by the subtle development whereby Stage I (Zack) encounters Stage V (Theodora) at the finale. iv THE USE OF MOTIFS The three techniques examined so far work mainly to create the progress of Theodora's consciousness from innocent curiosity to total alienation. In order to show that progress, when I was dealing above with the internal structure of Theodora's consciousness, i t was necessary for me to rely on conventional vocabulary (e.g. "her 2 7 1 i n a b i l i t y to resolve the mysteries:" "unprotected from the inner tension of her dual vision;" etc.) in order to re-main i n t e l l i g i b l e to my reader. I was essentially describ ing the progressive effects that her vision has on Theo-dora (and on others, for that matter). I turn now to the private, idiomatic texture of her consciousness, by which White renders most directly what i t feels like to be Theo-dora—to be seeing l i f e through her eyes. This texture, consisting of strange, emphatic syntax and a large net-work of motifs, is what keeps us constantly in Theodora's strange world as she progresses in i t . It i s , so to speak the raw material of her consciousness, even before that consciousness,is shaped into story form. The main motifs forming the texture of Theodora' consciousness include bones, roses, hat, clock, mahogany, colours (especially black, blue, white and yellow), f i r e , Meroe, Homer's Ithaca, and others. 7 I shall discuss bones roses, hat and mahogany. A consciousness of bones beneath the outer flesh is early established in the novel as a symbol of a person' capacity for perceiving "truth" beneath superficial appear ances. Theodora is attracted to the black h i l l s of Meroe", because, 2 7 2 There are certain landscapes in which you can see the bones of the earth. And this was one. You could touch your own bones, which i s to come a l i t t l e closer to truth, (p.61) This passage establishes the significance of the motif rather e x p l i c i t l y . Throughout the text i t recurs dozens of times, linking together a l l those "burnt ones" whose vision is intense and penetrating, and contrasting and separating them from those whose awareness stops at surfaces. The contrast appears, for instance, at the Parrott's b a l l , in the context of music: 'Charlie King is a superficial per-son, using his s k i l l at the piano to impress Theodora's s i s -ter, Fanny. As he plays, "his hands rippled like a pair of kid gloves. They had no bones" (p.77). By contrast, Theo-dora dances very intensely to the music of the professional players: "Her body bent to the music. Her face was thin with music, down to the bone" (p.78). On another occasion, Frank Parrott's ina b i l i t y to relate to Theodora i s conveyed through the bone motif. Frank is ultimately a superficial person, and he ends up marrying Fanny and finding himself always embarrassed at Theodora's "ugly mug, that was always about to ask something you could not answer" (p.l4). But in younger days he i s attracted to her, and t e l l s her whyi "Because you are a l l right. Because, I suppose, you are honest" (p.84). 273 Encouraged, she longs for a deep relationship with himt He was no longer the nice affectionate dog. If she had touched him, touched his hands, the hones of her fingers would have wrestled with the bones in the palm of his hand. But she is unable to reach him at this deep, "bone" lev e l . Minutes later he "must go in and see the others" and promptly proposes marriage to Fanny. The motif is used extensively to link the "burnt ones." Moraitis declares that he and Theodora are "com-patriots in the country of the bones" (p.113). Watching him at the concert she observes that his vision i s like hers on the black h i l l s of Meroec (quoted above, p.22)t And he saw with the purity of a primitive vision, whether the bones of the h i l l s or the'shape of a cup. (p.116) Then, towards the end of the concert, she perceives sym-bolically how he finds in music the strength to survive unconcerned by the anguish of life» Moraitis rose again above the flesh . . . . He wore the expression of sleep and solitary mirrors. The sun was in his eyes, the sky had passed between his bones, (p.116) The passage of the sky between the bones suggest that Moraitis achieves a transcendence through playing music, which allows him to feel at one with the universe. His bones are united with the sky, they aren't just the objects of s o l i p s i s t i c anguish in front of a mirror—which they 2 7 4 so often are for Theodora ("in the deal mirror,. . . she spoke to the face that had now begun to form, i t s bone" £ p . 5 l j ) . She had wondered how Moraitis managed to be "pro-tected by some detachment of unconcern" ( p . 1 1 5 ) , and she now knows his music is the answer. Unfortunately the same resource i s not open to her, as Miss Spofforth saw* You w i l l see clearly, beyond the bone. . . . Although you w i l l be torn by a l l the agonies of music, you are not creative. You have not the artist's vanity which i s moved f i n a l l y to express i t s e l f in objects. (p.64) Despite her lack of "the artist's vanity" however, she is strengthened by the encounter with her "compatriot" in the lonely world of "bones." Similarly, "bone" links exist between Theodora and Katina Pavlou. After Katina's exposure to the f i r e of dis-appointing seduction, her face becomes bloodless, and "since yesterday, Theodora saw, the bones had come" ( p . 2 5 1 ) . Interestingly, Katina must have intuited the hollowness or sham of her relationship with Wetherby even before the seduc-tion in the tower, for we read that early in the wooing, "she withdrew her hand" from him, because, "she could not answer for the behaviour of her bones" ( p . 2 3 4 ) . The touch of hands involving "bone" touch (i.e. a recognition of sim-i l a r outlook or vision), i s reserved for Theodora* "I shall go away," Katina Pavlou said, touching the bones in Theodora's hand. ( p . 2 6 4 ) 275 K a t i n a has become another "compatriot." And l i k e M o r a i t i s , f o r whom music p r o v i d e d transcendence, K a t i n a d i d once, b r i e f l y , experience a sense of f u l l n e s s , s i m i l a r l y rendered: K a t i n a Pavlou d i d not hear. There was no reason why she s h o u l d . Sun had undone her bones, (p.236) Her romantic f l u s h over Wetherby produced t h i s temporary d i s s o l u t i o n of "bone" consciousness, but the next day, as we j u s t saw, the bones come to her f a c e . Roses are as p r e v a l e n t i n the t e x t u r e as bones. We have a l r e a d y seen t h a t Theodora's f i r s t encounter with a mystery i s her d i s c o v e r y of a bug i n a r o s e . Roses i n f a c t symbolize her l i f e . Her f i r s t recorded memory i s of l y i n g i n bed where she " c o u l d sense the r o s e s " (p.20). Her c h i l d h o o d i s "an epoch of r o s e l i g h t " (p.20). To her mother, she and Fanny are "my r o s e s , my r o s e s " (p.26), but whereas Fanny i s "as p i n k and white as r o s e s i n the new d r e s s , " Theodora's c o l o u r "doesn't s u i t " (p.2?). Thus her sense of a l i e n a t i o n be/gins, i n e a r l y l i f e . Soon she p e r -c e i v e s she has changed i n t o a s t i c k , and wishes she were a ro s e : f p e a r l BrawneJ i s f i n e as a b i g white r o s e , and I am a s t i c k . I f i t i s good to be a s t i c k , s a i d Theodora, i t i s b e t t e r t o be a b i g white r o s e . (p.3 8 ) From t h i s time on, u n t i l her mother d i e s and she engages i n her quest, Theodora ceases to t h i n k of h e r s e l f i n the 276 rose image, except to remember that her childhood was a "passage of roselight" (p.1 2 7 ) . But during her quest the image returns, indicating her desire to find herself in the lost content of childhood. At the Hfrtel,du Midi, Maroon roses, the symbols of roses, shouted through megaphones at the brass bed. Remem-bering the flesh of roses, the roselight snoozing in the veins, she regretted the age of symbols, (p.144) These maroon roses are the a r t i f i c i a l flowers in the Hotel, and their a r t i f i c i a l i t y symbolizes the painful distance she feels between the innocence of her childhood ("roselight snoozing in the veins") and the anguish of her mature alienation. In another painful scene, Theodora records in the rose motif of her consciousness, that sexual fulfilment might have brought her,?perhaps, to the content she knew in childhood i She is very depressed, feeling her identity to be "uncertain" (p.206) and i s staring at the roses on the wallpaper of her room, when she hears Wetherby and Liese-lotte making love next doorj She looked with sadness at the l i t t l e hitherto safe microcosm of the darning egg and waited for the rose wall to f a l l . It began to palpitate, the paper mouths of roses wetting their l i p s , either voice or wall putting on flesh. She was almost i n -decently close to what was happening, but sometimes one i s . Sometimes the paper rose has arms and thighs, (p.206) The "putting on flesh" here seems to indicate a fantasy,;,associ-ation of the lovers' activity with her own l i f e . Btit the fantasy 277 is k i l l e d by the depressing conversation of the lovers, and Theodora feels i t diet "Hot hands twisted paper roses." With the death of fantasy, with no hope of returning some-how to her childhood of "roselight snoozing in the veins," Theodora now chooses for her personal symbol a black rose. She sews this gloomy object on her hat, and our last image of her in the book is an image of this symbol« The hat sat straight, but the doubtful rose trembled and glittered, leading a.'life of i t s own. (p.303) This conjunction of rose and hat signifies the survival of her divided self . The rose, as I've tried to show, is the symbol of her private self, and the hat, as I shall now show, symbolizes her social self. I have noted at least ten recurrences of the hat motif, which surprises me, because i t does not stand out much in the text. On re-reading, one discovers that the hat always appears in a social context, that i s , i t always becomes a focus for people's awareness and judgments of Theodora. By her hat, people notice that Theodora i s an oddball. "You haven't even taken off your hat" (p.49), says Una Russell, when she f i r s t sees her at the school. Una hates "what was unexplained" (p.6 3 ) , and Theodora certainly appears unusual in her hati "Because "Theodora sat on the quilt in her big straw hat, and her face was half a brown 2?8 shadow, the way the brim cut across. Theoimpression was rather strange" (p.49). In the distress of Katina's seduction, Theodora rushes to the tower hatless, and people immediately notice this as a sign of strange emotion in her. "How funny you look," Katina says, "and without a hat" (p.252). Her hat, at this point in time, i s "large and unfashionable" (p.146), but whether i t is the black hat of Part Three we don't know. Certainly that hat aroused comment. Both Zack and Mrs. Johnson remind her on two separate occasions that she has l e f t the hat behind. One of these times, Theodora admits enigmatically that "It was not very polite" (p.295) to do so. Ultimately Theodora treats the hat as the symbol of her public self, for when Holstius t e l l s her to submit to society and keep her "better" awareness to herself ("we must keep i t under our hats" £p .299j)» she immediately treats his metaphor l i t e r a l l y ; she decides that what she w i l l do is simply pin the black rose on her hat, and go along with whatever she is told to do. In other words, she thinks to herself, using the symbols of rose (private self) and hat (public s e l f ) , that she w i l l simply accept the i r -recocilable duality between her vision and the world's v i s -ion instead of trying to destroy one or the other. And she w i l l accept the consequences (the asylum). She puts the 279 hat on at the end, "as i t was suggested she should do" (p.303), thus expressing her submission; her ironical triumph is that the symbol of her submission (agreeing to wear the hat) contains also the symbol of her uncompromised private vision, the black rose. Lastly, the motif of mahogany identifies those things in the world that Theodora really hates, and i t helps to explain why her affai r with Huntly Clarkson f a i l s . Mahogany symbolizes basically the materialistic ethic of li v i n g l i f e by possessing things. Mrs, Goodman brings back mahogany furniture from her trips to Europe and India (p.26), and locks i t up when she i s not present in the house to exercise her possessiveness. In old age, she reads "from mahogany l i p s " (p.127), and her reading brings back the faces of Theodora's childhood. "You see a l l these faces that I command," says Mrs. Goodman, " i t i s they who give me my sig-nificance" (p.127). When Theodora perceives that Huntly Clarkson also surrounds himself with mahogany furniture, she grows suspicious of his a b i l i t y to survive without such "padding" (p.106). When Moraitis t e l l s her that he cannot abide rooms f u l l of furniture, she develops the strength to reject Huntly f i n a l l y , and perceives her rejection in terms of the mahogany motif1 280 She closed doors, and he was l e f t standing in his handsome mahogany interior, which was external, fatally external, outside Theodora Goodman's closed door, (p.113). By contrast with the mahogany interior of Huntly's house, the house Theodora finds for herself on the hi l l s i d e in America in Part Three, is a "blank house," containing only "objects that people had not valued" (p.299). v THE ELLIPTICAL SYNTAX White's syntax in this and other novels, is perhaps the most striking of a l l his different techniques of vision. He i s often e l l i p t i c a l , leawing sentences i n -complete or understated, or setting oft in a separate para-graph a small group of words which is often only a frag-ment of a sentence. In the course of reading, we get used to the strangeness of the technique, but i t s principal effect continues. That effect i s that we are forced to participate in completing the verbal texture. For example, the f i r s t paragraph of the book which consists of eight words ("But old Mrs. Goodman did die at last") forces us to try to supply some balancing statement before the "but." Since we obviously can't do that yet, the effect of the para-graph is to alert us to the subsequent pages in an effort to find out why i t i s important (or unlikely) that Mrs. Goodman should have died. 281 Similarly, the four-word paragraph on page 8 3 ("She smoothed her skirt . . .") which occurs in the middle of a conversation between Theodora and Frank Parrott forces us by i t s sheer brevity to try to complete the story by saying what i s in Theodora's mind when she makes this ges-ture (is she waiting for Frank to make'love to her? i s she about to cut him down?). By this means White captures our most careful attention to the development of the story, and engages our imagination rewardingly, in f i l l i n g in the blanks. Again, consider the i t a l i c i s e d sentence fragment in this quotation: "I hope you w i l l come often," Huntly Clarkson said. "I would like you to meet my friends." It brushed cold along her skin. To s i t alone in the drawing room surrounded by the  bare diamond women.(p.107 my emphasis) Omitted from the fragment i s a clause which might read "She could not imagine what i t would be l i k e , " or "She did not want." Leaving the sentence in fragment form, White fiorees us.to;beparticularly attentive to Theodora's situation. Huntly has already told Theodora that he likes to have women around him with bare shoulders and diamonds. We are not told that she doesn't want to do this, though we are told that'his suggestion that she meet his friends 282 "brushed cold along her skin." With this indication of Theodora's negativity, we are then simply placed in the drawing room "surrounded by the bare diamond women." Our engagement with the narrative i s much more intimate and imaginative this way than i f the narrator had spelled out f u l l y how Theodora f e l t about his suggestion. We are simply placed, along with her, in the situation Huntly has proposed, and must develop her feelings, by identification with her. The e l l i p t i c a l syntax is an extremely obtrusive device, and probably accounts for some of the derision White's style has received over the years. Australian ( 2 3 January, 1971» 2 2 ) recently published the winning entry in a "Parody Competition" in which e l l i p s i s is soundly mocked. This h o s t i l i t y to White's e l l i p t i c a l syntax evi-dences yet again the dynamic tension which the novel of vision creates between writer and reader. For readers willing to submit to the texture of the vision, and to open their sensibilities to i t s mannered techniques, the de-familiarizing texture becomes imaginatively involving, as I have tried to show. 283 The theme of The Aunt's Story is implicit in the major techniques which I have examined. It i s the develop-ment of individual consciousness in the world of White's vision. Theodora progresses to a f u l l e r and f u l l e r aware-ness of the conditions of duality and isolation, which produces alienation. The reader i s forced through the same kind of experience by means of the.shuttling back and forth of the narrative base, which creates duality; and this duality is further bodied out in the motif pat-terns which stand apart from the more normal language of narration. The part-structure i s i t s e l f a movement into subjective isolation, involving a narrowing of focus and progressive egocentricity of perceptions. The form of the novel i s the form of Theodora's consciousness, which is the theme. 284 FOOTNOTES 1 Patrick White, The Aunt's Storv (I948i r p t . Londoni Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1958), P» 293. Subsequent page references to t h i s e d i t i o n are incorporated i n the text. 2 C o l i n Roderick, An Introduction to Australian  F i c t i o n (Sydneyi Angus & Robertson, 1950), p. 146. 3 John B. Beston, "Love and Sex i n a Staid Spinsteri The Aunt's Story," Quadrant. 15, 5 (Sept/Oct. 1 9 7 D , 22-27, treats Theodora as an object lesson i n distorted sexual attitudes r e s u l t i n g from the destructive influences of her parents. The a r t i c l e i s h e l p f u l , but doesn't f i n a l l y succeed i n explaining away Theodora's problem. After a l l , her s i s t e r Fanny doesn't suffer the same way Theodora does, so why did her parents have t h i s d i s t o r t i n g e f f e c t on Theo and not also (or instead) on Fanny? Beston shows how Theodora was affected by her parents, but not why. I t remains a moot point between Beston* s view and mine whether Theodora's v i s i o n i s a r e s u l t of conditioning, or whether i t i s not also a cause of that conditioning. ^ See esp. Thelma Herring, "Odyssey of a Spinsteri A Study of The Aunt's Storv." Southerly. 25 (1965), 6-22, and P a t r i c i a A. Morley, fcThe Mystery of Unitvi Theme and  Technique i n the Novels of P a t r i c k White (Montreal! M c G i l l --Queens U. Press, 1972), pp. 63-84. 5 Herring and Morley both discuss the quest structure. 6 Beston thinks that the residents at the Hotel are " a l l creations of Theodora's fantasy," rather than actual people around whom she builds her daydreams. His view seems to overlook the evidence (The Aunt's Story, p. 142) of the h o t e l i e r ' s introduction of t h e i r names to Theodora. On the other hand, the h o t e l i e r might also be a fantasy f i g u r e , i f one accepts Beston's view. J. F. Burrows, "'Jardin Exotique'i The Central Phase of The Aunt's Storv."Southerly. 26 (1966)» 152-173, shares my view that Theodora builds daydreams, which he c a l l s "fugues'l" round actual people. 7 Marjorie Barnard, "Theodora Again," Southerly. 20 (1959)* 51-55» points to some of the motifs, notably the colours, i n a useful review. CHAPTER EIGHT LIVING BY VISIONt THE VISION AND ROLE OF THE ARTIST IN PATRICK WHITE'S THE VIVISECTOR The Aunt's Story and The Vivisector both immerse the reader in the internal world of a person possessed of a deeply alienating vision. Poor Theodora Goodman could do nothing with her vision but carry i t to the asylum; she had no satisfactory way of communicating, for, as her school principal saw, she did not have "the artist's vanity, which is moved f i n a l l y to express i t s e l f in objects" (AS p.64). Hurtle Duffield is what Theodora might have becomes.^ if.:;,she indeed had had that "vanity." Hurtle is possessed, like Theodora, of an alienated (and alienating) vision, but his s k i l l as a painter saves him from the asylum, and allows him instead an active social role. Playing the role of a r t i s t , Hurtle is able to express his vision, and by so doing he engages in perpetual battle with the world from which Theo-dora was locked away, and finds the soul-kinship which Theo-dora ultimately gave up hope of achieving. My purpose in this chapter i s to define both Hurtle's vision and his role as a r t i s t , in the terms in which they are created in the text. Published in 1 9 7 0 , The Vivisector has already been studied in four articles, a book chapter and many reviews 286 at this writing (July, 1973). Each of the five larger studies mentioned brings to bear on the novel c r i t e r i a derived externally, and which help to place i t in larger contexts of literature and art, thus tending to undercut whatever "defamiliarization" of vision White has achieved. Docker, for instance, argues for the placement of White " i n an Australian post-Romantic tradition of thought." 2 Terry Smith proposes to examine "certain aspects of the novel as novel," but proceeds instead to show that Hurtle Duffield is not "plausible" because he i s not a recognizable.'.-.member of the actual world of Australian artists.3 Beston, Herring and Morley a l l pay a good deal of attention to the actual text of the novel, but their c r i t i c a l purposes are not so much to illuminate the innate qualities of that text, as to relate i t to the artist's l i f e or his other works. A l l of these c r i t i c a l essays are interesting and valuable in their own right, but their tendency to view the novel in relation to something else i s evidence yet again of the reluctance of c r i t i c s to confront a novel of vision on i t s own terms. (I.-should add, in fairness to Thelma Herring, that her ar-ti c l e might be said to use other White novels as mere sources of c r i t i c a l concepts relevant to The Vivisector} but the ;, question remains, Why bother? Why not just confront The  Vivisector directly, on i t s own terms? Herring's practice 287 leads her eventually into making value judgments about The Vivisector vis-a-vis Voss and The Solid Mandala. both of which she prefers.) . . . i HURTLE DUFFIELD'S VISION From early childhood on. Hurtle's inquisitiveness about l i f e sets him off from a l l those around him. Again and again he asks d i f f i c u l t question of his parents, u n t i l i t becomes rather frighteningly obvious to them that "there was so much of him that didn't belong to his family. He could see them watching him, wanting to ask him questions. Sometimes they did, and he answered, but the answers weren't the ones they wanted. They looked puzzled, even hurt" ( p . 1 3 ) . 4 His mother advises him to spend less time reading, and to run along and play with the others in the fresh air (p.14). Likewise his father advises* "Learn a trade. It's a l l very well to read and write. But you can go too far" (p.1 7 ) . Hurtle silently rejects their advice, knowing that he can't love a trade, and that even the books he reads are not that important to him. What then i s he interested in? With the narrator's help, he answers this question for him-self in the novel's f i r s t presentation of his artist's v i s -ion* 288 You loved—what? You wouldn't have known, not to he asked. He loved the feel of a smooth stone, or to take a flower to pieces, to see what there was inside. He loved the pepper tree breaking into light, and the white hens rustling by moonlight in the black branches, and the sleepy sound of the hen shit dropping. He could do nothing about i t , though. Not yet. He could only carry a l l of i t in his head. Not talk about i t . (p.17) The feel of the stone's texture, the vivisection of the flower, the visual qualities of the pepper tree, and the sounds of hens moving and shitting constitute the valuable elements in Hutle's world at this point in his l i f e , and at this opening stage of the novel. For the next six hundred and some pages t i l l the novel ends, the narrative progressively extends the presentation of these things that Hurtle finds important, t i l l the reader has been steeped for many hours of reading in the idiosyncracies of his percep-t i o n — h i s vision. Patrick White achieves this "steeping" process partly through the use of motifs recording Hurtle's perceptions, and partly through the particular manner in which he engages the reader in creating Hurtle's paintings, and I shall examine both f i c t i o n a l devices in deta i l . The texture of motifs and the focusing of the reader's imagination on the composition of the paintings creates an awareness of Hurtle's vision, and against that texture and focus l i e s a background of more ordinary 289 perceptions and mundane interests. The visionary elements and the f o i l or ordinariness are constantly juxtaposed, reminding us throughout the narrative of the uniqueness and idiosyncracy of Hurtle's vision. For instance Hurtle's highly idiosyncratic awareness of his own painting (".,. . whirligigs of memory, aureoles and chandeliers, dandelions and tadpoles . . . trying to coerce the crimson arteries, or life-hearing rivers, across the vast steppes . . . p.628-9 ) is immediately followed by Don Lethbridge's simpler and more objective awareness of the same object again, Hurtle's thoughts about Maurice Caldicott ("blue-white limbs, like those of plucked and drawn chicken, shot with the tones of invisible giblets" jjp.25l] ) are immediately followed by the down-to-earth words of Nance's letter ("Hurtle Duffield you selfish male bastard do you think I am nothing more than a prostitute?" £p.25l] ) The f o i l sets off the vision, and acts at times as comic r e l i e f from the imaginative intensity of Hurtle's internal world. Similarly, Hurtle's actions throughout any given day alternate between elaborate mental and imaginative processes, and the simple bodily functionsi from, on the one hand, "aesthetic orgasm" (p.462) to, on the other, "Shall I fry you some eggs?" (p.463). ("'Going for the colour Or, 2 9 0 a). Motifs of Hurtle's Vision During the course of his l i f e , Hurtle develops certain terms in which he views re a l i t y . A complete l i s t of these motifs occurring in the narrative would be very long, and would include, among others* people as chickens; eating as a form of relationship (including cannibalism); chandelier; noise (as an emotion); vivisection as a form of relationship; art as sex; araucaria (as an emotional state induced by the plant so named); crossing the desert; the world of moonlight; stroke (a.*'pun connoting both paint-brush strokes and paralytic seizures) as a basis of simil-arity between God and artists; the words "gelatinous," "slomacky," and others; snake and rose as aspects of Rhoda; eyes; shitting; and masturbation. I shall discuss what seem to me the most prominent of these motifs. In early l i f e , Hurtle's vision is dominated by chickens. He perceives his transfer from the world of his f i r s t parents to that of the Courtrvcytf. as a move from a "chicken" l i f e to a "chandelier" l i f e , and these symbolic perceptions mark important stages of his growing self-aware-ness as an a r t i s t . Hurtle asks his father why the chickens peck at the white, crook-neck pullet in the yard, and learns that i t ' s "because i t ' s different" (p.?). His own difference from the rest of his family i s soon evoked, thus allowing 291 him to seize on the image of the crook-neck bird as a symbol of his own alienation. We find he likes to roost like the chickens, in the pepper tree, amid "the. sleepy sound of the hen shit dropping" (p.17). The simplicity and earthiness of his origins i s associated in his mind with the symbol of chickens, and throughout his l i f e when he encounters sordid, unimaginative or uncuiltured people, he perceives them in terms of the symbolt For instance, as he grows a l i t t l e older he sees his father as "a scrawny cock" (p.71); and the prosaic Mr. Tyndall, his drawing teacher at the Courtney home, has hands "as blue as the legs of skinned chickens" (p.96). He describes the Court-neys* copulation to Rhoda as being "like fowls" (p.123), and he feels the banality of his own f i r s t copulation with the prostitute Nance when she t e l l s him that men are like plucked chickens when they've satisfied their sexual lusti " S i l l y , bloody-lookun men • S i l l y -lookun plucked men • You a l l look plucked once you've had what you come for." (p.193) Likewise, Hurtle sees through appearance to the sordid homosexual intentions ofihis agent, Caldicott ("his intellect inviting a rape which discretion would not have allowed his body" J[p.25oJ), and this insight into Caldicott's motives crystallizes into a chicken image (quoted above, p. 289 ). When Hurtle goes to the Greek island of 292 Perialos with his mistress Hero, the sordidness of her ro-mantic delusions appears plain to him when he sees the monks she has exalted in memory and expectation behaving like chickens to a church o f f i c i a l ! "Like hens expecting to be trodden, they hunched over the hand they kissed" (p.396). Hero had expected illumination from the monks, and got none; by contrast, Hurtle sees nothing in the monks, but he does see something glorious in the physical land-scape of the island, which Hero cannot see. This d i f f e r -ence in their vision i s rendered through a variation of the chicken motif1 A l l this time a l i t t l e golden hen had been stalking and clucking round the iron base of the cafe table, pecking at the crumbs which had fallen from their mouths. The warm scallops of her golden feathers were of that same inspiration as the scales of the silver-blue sea creature they—or he, at least—had watched from John of the Apo-calypse, r i t u a l l y coiling and uncoiling, before dissolving in the last l i g h t , (pp.408-9) He tries to express to her what he sees in the cock, but she cannot share his vision, and concerns herself with the steamship tickets. To her, the cock i s just a'.-.humble chicken pecking at crumbs; to him the cock i s a golden bird which wonderfully inspiresKiss imagination. In three or four other instances, the chicken motif conveys Hurtle's perception of sordidness in his s i s -ter Rhoda, in his mistress Kathy, and in himself in old age. 293 When he f i r s t meets Rhoda, her physical deformities "re-minded him of the crook-neck pullet at home" (p.30), and later i h i l i f e , when he is working on the Rhoda paintings, he relates her weak bone structure to "the sickening p l i a b i l i t y " (p.301) of the breast bones of dead chickens. At Kathy's concert, Hurtle feels jealous and pained by the public exposure of her art, and records this by saying that her "golden" piano playing has turned into "chicken-notes, in danger of scattering too far" (p.551)* Later on, Hurtle receives a message from Kathy via the sycophantic music c r i t i c , Shuard* "She said," the man insisted, " ' T e l l my dear old mate, my darling old rooster . . . "No! I don't believe. I don't want to—know. Never!" His pure soul, his spiritual child, (p.614) This reaction to the word "rooster" shows Hurtle's un-willingness to accept a sordid interpretation of his re-lationship with the g i r l * surely his "pure soul, his spir-itual child" thought of him as something other than a "rooster"? In contrast to the sordid world of "chicken," which is where his l i f e began, Hurtle discovers the b r i l l -iant and exciting world of imagination, which he f i r s t perceives as the world of the "chandelier." The separation between the two worlds is symbolized by a door in the 2 9 4 Courtney home, covered with green f e l t , which " p u f f s " shut, marking a t o t a l s e p a r a t i o n . On one s i d e of the door i s the "chicken" world of the k i t c h e n , and "the damp stone laundry s m e l l i n g of L y s o l and yel l o w soap" ( p . 3 1 ) , which he compares to a p r i s o n ; on the other s i d e i s the fancy i n t e r i o r of the house f i l l e d with a r t works and ex-c i t i n g ornaments« The f e l t e d door went p f f ' a s he passed through. And a t once he was r e c e i v e d by h i s other world of s i l e n c e and beauty. He touched the t i n y p o r c e l a i n s h e l l s . He stood l o o k i n g up through the c h a n d e l i e r , h o l d i n g h i s face almost f l a t , f o r the l i g h t to t r i c k l e and c o l l e c t on i t . The g l a s s f r u i t t i n k l e d s l i g h t l y , the whole f o r e s t swaying, because of a draught from an open window. He was h i m s e l f a g a i n , ( p . 3 1 ) The l a s t sentence of t h i s q u o t a t i o n i s s i g n i f i c a n t , f o r i t suggests t h a t the c h a n d e l i e r i s not j u s t an o b j e c t to be possessed or looked a t , but a mechanism by which H u r t l e i s able to become aware of h i s own p e r s o n a l i t y as an embryonic a r t i s t i i * Indeed, even e a r l i e r , when he f i r s t saw the chan-d e l i e r , we read t h a t "he knew a l l about a c h a n d e l i e r , from perhaps dreaming of i t , and only now r e c o g n i z i n g h i s dream" ( p . 2 4 0 ; . In other words, the c h a n d e l i e r with i t s " f l i c k e r i n g of broken rainbow" (p.2 4 ) i s a p r i s m a t i c de-v i c e which p r o v i d e s him with an a f f i r m i n g metaphor by which to r e c o g n i z e h i s own b r i T l i a n t i m a g i n a t i o n ! "He had 295 inside him his own chandelier" (p.53)» Later, when he gives priority to the expression of the imagination, by becoming an accomplished a r t i s t , he continues to think of i t (his imagination) as a "chandeliert" his desire to begin painting the work "Marriage of Light" is expressed as wanting "to shoot at an enormous naked canvas a whole radiant chandelier waiting in his mind and balls" (p.215). By this point in his l i f e Hurtle has, as i t were, inter-nalized the "chandelier;" that is to say, whereas the chandelier was a necessary object in his childhood, by which he was able to believe in the reality of his own imaginative vision, in later l i f e the object i t s e l f ceases to be an important thing because he has grown to maturity as an art i s t , and now believes in the "chandelier" of his own mind. This growth process is evident at the point where Hurtle returns from the stimulating trip to Europe and finds "most noticeably," that "the chandelier had dwindled and dulled above the hall " (p.143). Many years later, Hurtle forsees a similar ex-perience of a r t i s t i c maturing in l i t t l e Kathy Volkov. Kathy, at the time, is at the beginning of her career as an arti s t , and is inspired by Tchaikowsky, Rachmaninoff, and particularly Liszt, and her teacher has instructed her to study Liszt's First Concerto for however long i t takes to 296 master i t . Hurtle perceives as she's t e l l i n g him this, that "at the end of the unspecified period, the chande-l i e r s would crash about her shoulders, and her shining head rise untouched" (pp*448-9). The reader, educated by earlier usages of the chandelier motif, can understand that Hurtle means that Kathy, like himself, w i l l outgrow the need for external models ("chandeliers") as the art-i s t i c self in her matures. The growth of Hurtle's personality i s , then, a progress out of the world of "chicken," through the world of "chandelier," to a world of a r t i s t i c self-expression. White uses the complex and intricate motif of art-as-sex, to render Hurtle's awareness of his l i f e as an a r t i s t . The motif is intricate, in that i t involves many different aspects of sexual experience, such as orgasm, masturbation, wet dreams, rape, procreation and so on. The association between the two forms of activity begins with masturbation. In Europe, Hurtle is frustrated by his inability to draw and paint on' a level equal to that of the museum and art gallery paintings "which showed him a reality more intense than the l i f e he had so far experienced" (p. 1 2 9 ) . He destroys his attempts, and "the inadequacy and necessity of his efforts," we read, "drained him as despairingly as an orgasm in the bath." In a London restaurant, when his 297 emotions are disturbed by a number of events, he begins "drawing in the margin of the menu, as he always did when a situation became unbearable, practically as though play-ing with himself" (p.140). Later, as he struggles unsuc-cessfully to paint his vision of Nance, he finds what he is painting is only "one aspect of him in her," and the experience is described as "fiddling, rubbing, masturbating in nervous paint on a narrow board" (p.l97)» Near the end of his l i f e , in a temporary loss of a r t i s t i c drive, Hurtle again uses the masturbation metaphor in wondering whether his art has been communicative or too self-enclosedi He wondered whom he had been addressing a l l these years. No ar t i s t can endure devoted misinterpretation indefinitely, any more than he can survive in a vacuum of public contempts or was he the self-centred monster Rhoda accused him:Of being? God knew, he had multiplied, i f not through his loins; he was no frivolous masturbator tossing his seed on to wasteland, (p.528) This contrast between multiplying and wasting seed is em-bedded in Hurtle's consciousness by the sight of the grocer Cutbush actually masturbating one night, at the park where lovers are copulating in the lantana bushes. In his paint-ing "Lantana Lovers Under Moonfire" Hurtle elevates the lovers, and derides "the gunner-grocer aiming at them out of frustration and envy" (p.349!);. By a strange irony, this derisive picture of a masturbator becomes a communicative 298 and f u l f i l l i n g quasi-sexual object, for the grocer later reveals to Hurtle that he himself fel& "consummated, so to speak" (p.582) by the realization that his masturbation had given birth to a painting. Further variations of the art-as-sex motif reveal other unsatisfactory aspects in Hurtle's awareness of his l i f e as a painter. For a while he is preoccupied putting delicate razor nicks on a self-portrait, but pleasant though the exercise of this technique- i s , i t is not important to his development as an a r t i s t , and amounts simply to "weight-less wet dreams of art" (p.2^5). Nance t e l l s him the paint-ing reveals only self-love (p.258), so he smears i t with shit and eventually hurls i t into the gorge. At another time, G i l Honeysett, Director of the State Gallery invades Hurtle's studio, and the disturbance i s so violent to Hurtle that he feels raped (p.59l)» and i t takes time be-fore he can paint again, and watch "the few last drops of fulfilment spurt and tric k l e . " The pleasant and f u l f i l l i n g aspects of his l i f e as an a r t i s t also appear to Hurtle in sexual images. The period during which he i s painting "Electric City" is a "drawn-out orgasm" (p.211) and in this period his sleep at night has post-coital aspects. Having slept alone, he wakes "working out of his mouth the rather rubbery texture of 299 nipples" (p.212). Boo Holingrake's appreciation of his painting of Rhoda is also orgasmic, reminding him "of Nance on the occasions when she had reached a true orgasm" (p.303)• The same painting produces in Hurtle an "aesthe-t i c orgasm" (p.462), when he sees i t later in Rhoda*s company. (Likewise, he notices that Kathy experiences an aesthetic orgasm (j?«524J at her concert, brought about through her art, not her lovers.) Hurtle is aware of him-self "panting" as he "thrust against a virgin board" (p.490), doing a painting of Kathy. Most important of a l l , he looks back on his career as an ar t i s t , at the time?; of the Duffield Retrospective, and sees i t as "half a lifetime begetting, and giving birth" (p.622). From some of the motifs which reveal Hurtle's awareness of his l i f e as an ar t i s t , I turn now to two major motifs which render his experience of relationship with people, eating and vivisection. The motif of eating as a form of relationship is one of the most noticeable motifs in the book, not only because of i t s constant recurrence, but also because of the bizarre forms in which i t some-times appears. The motif f i r s t enters Hurtle's conscious-ness quite naturally in relation to his baby brother Sep. Mumma Duffield is concerned about leaving Sep in his bas-ket in the Courtney's garden, because "Miss Rhoda's cat 3 0 0 might jump out and eat him" (p.46). This fear makes Sep interesting to Hurtle, and he now watches the baby breast feeding* Certainly Sep knew what he was up to, his red fingers working on the veined tittybottle, like some sort of caterpillars trying for a hold on a pale f r u i t , (p.47) The comic tone of this picture persists when, later, Sep grows bigger, "too heavy, too greedy* the way^he would grab hold of her by now she might have been a pudding he meant to guzzle whole" (p.6 7 ) . But soon the comedy ac-quires ironically grim undertones, when Mrs. Courtney de-clares to Hurtle, "I could eat you up!" (p.4 9 ) . Unfamiliar with the turn of speech, Hurtle imagines that she "seemed to be going to try," as she bends down and embraces him. Shortly afterwards, he sees Mrs. Courtney "looking at him as though he< were something to eat" (p.5 0 ) . From this point on, Hurtle is increasingly obsessed by images of himself being devoured by ".his adoptive mother and sister. When Mrs. Courney pushes his face into her wardrobe f u l l of dresses, to teach him like a-puppy to recognize her scent, he feels his face being "swallowed" ( p . 9 0 ) . On another occasion, Rhoda lures him to her bedside with a promise to show him something, only to throw her arms around him in a strong embrace and kiss, and then, we read, she "took a deep breath and lay back on the pillows as though she had 301 eaten a satisfying meal" (p.1 2 2 ) . Earlier, he sees Rhoda as a white ant, having just dreamed that white ants de-voured the harness-room wall where he did his f i r s t paint-ings (p.9 3 ) . Mrs. Courtney's devouring attitude becomes overtly sexual, which is what f i n a l l y drives Hurtle away from the home t "Give me—" she said, "let me hold your head." She didn't wait for a reply, but took i t in her hands as though i t were a f r u i t , or goblet. She began gulping at his mouthi they were devouring with their two mouths a swelling, over-ripened, suddenly sickening— pulp. He spat her out. (p.172) Because of his participation in this sexual kiss, Hurtle is f i l l e d with guilt and disgust, and he enlists in the army at once, goes to war, and never sees Mrs. Courtney again. When next the eating motif recurs, however, i t i s again in a sexual context. Nance, the prostitute begins "peeling, paring" him of his clothes, as though "he might have been something else: some exotic f r u i t " (p.1 9 1 ) . His sexual lust for her appears to him in similar terms* "His own fingers began itching out after homelier pears, bruised in parts; the gash in a dripping water-melon; the marbled,., sometimes scented, sometimes acrid flesh of a l l f r u i t ever" (p . 1 9 1 ) . 302 From the time of Mrs. Courtney's sickening kiss onwards, a l l Hurtle's sexual relationships appear to him in terms of eating and "being eaten. After Nance's death, Boo Holingrake introduces him to his next mistress, Hero, with the ironical line, "I'm giving you Hurtle, Hero, for dinner" (p.326), and soon enough the new lovers start eat-ing one another. Hero arrives at his house and begins "ravenously, propelling him with her greed" (p.363); then he becomes "infected with her appetite" and progresses, "from nibbling to biting to attempting to swallow her burning earlobes" (p.363)« A n impassioned kiss between them is "their tender meal" in which he hears "the clash of teeth on teeth as they b i t into the same f r u i t " (p.383). Even with Kathy Volkov, he finds himself at f i r s t wanting to ihold her head, "yes to drink i t down—swallow i t whole—its beauty" (p.451), and she responds by "devour-ing";ihim in ">mouthfuls" (pp.484-5). In time the eating motif disappears from Hurtle and Kathy's relationship, as i t ceases to involve sexual intercourse. From these usages of the motif we can see clearly that Hurtle is afraid of sexual experience, at the same time that he seeks -Itsand enjoys i t . It's not simply a matter of sexual contact and a r t i s t i c production being mutually exclusive, for Hurtle uses his sexual experiences 303 as the subjects of many of his paintings, and goes to his lover of the moment whenever he becomes too self-enclosed to paint well. It appears however that Hurtle always fears the danger of sexuality getting out of con-t r o l and causing him to lose his balance in devouring, and being devoured. In other words, i t is the possess-iveness of sex that threatens him, as we see clearly in this exchange with Kathyi "Don't"'you-like me?" she asked between mouthfuls. From amongst the wreckage of what he had aspired to, he didn't. He had hoped to love, not possess her. "Don't you?" she gasped. "No, Kathy, I love you." That seemed to satisfy her* now she could accept the dry science of his approach, (p.484) This statement of Hurtle's preference for a non-possessive sexual relationship with Kathy shows how far he has progressed in facing .up •to.:.::. the problem of relationship, since the time he fled from Mrs. Courtney's devouring mouth. The motif of eating charts his struggle, through the relation-ships with Mrs. Courtney, with Nance, with H e r o — a l l of whom were possessive or devouring lovers—to the relation-ship with Kathy which, by i t s non-possessive nature becomes the closest thing to a fu l l y satisfactory sexual relation-ship that Hurtle experiences in his lifetime. Yet the nebulousness and impermanence and non-exclusivenss of this 304 last love a f f a i r make i t a good deal less than perfect. The failure to achieve that perfect sexual relationship i s one of the enduring ironies of White's vision in this novel, though, as I shall show later, this loss is some-what compensated for by the kinship Hurtle feels with certain people (including Kathy) whom he considers to be "artists." Like the motif of eating, the motif of v i v i -section conveys Hurtle's vision of the destructiveness inherent in certain human relationships. The essential difference is that "vivisection" is a mental process, whereas "eating" is physical. "Vivisection" i s an ab-stracting and analytic function, a way of seeing or inter-preting a person's l i f e ; "eating"Ais a fusing function, a way of swallowing up a person's individuality.^ "Eating" i s the destructive possibility inherent in sex-ual relationship; "vivisection" i s the destructive pos-s i b i l i t y inherent in being given self awareness. God is a "vivisector," because he gives man consciousness which can turn into anguished self-awareness. The ar t i s t is also a "vivisector," because his work can interpret a person's l i f e in a way that i s disturbing to that person's self image. I shall try to show how I arrive at these de-finitions through examining occurrences of the motif. 305 We f i r s t encounter the terra "vivisection" in Mrs. Courtney's normal usage of i t , in the second chapter. Her "particular interest is the prevention of vivisection" (p.104), she informs Hurtle, in the ironic context where she has just forced her husband to slash and cut him with a riding crop for having done a disturbingly interpre-tative painting of his tutor's suicide. This usage in the context of the hurt she has done to him, and the hurt his painting caused in-her, provides Hurtle with a metaphoric term to connote acts of cruelty. Years later he himself begins to use the term. He t e l l s Cutbush that he believes in God, "the Divine Vivisector" (p.269), and explains that he believes in God as such because "otherwise, how would men come by their cruelty—and their brilliance?" (p.269). Though Cutbush doesn't understand what he's talking about, the reader does. Hurtle i s grieving over the death of Nance, and wondering how far he bears the responsibility for her death. "I've been accused of loving myself" (p.268), he explains which the reader knows was Nance's accusation of him (p.258). "With an ar t i s t , " Nance complained, "you're never free he's makun use of yer in the name of the Holy Mother of Truth . . . when the only brand of truth 'e recognizes is 'is own i t i s inside 'im *e reckons and as 'e 306 digs inter poor fucker you 'e hopes you'll help 'im let i t out . . . by turnun yer into a shambles . . . [andj out of the shambles 'e paints what 'e calls 'is bloody work of art.'" (p. 2 5 8 ) . "Lovun ' imself" (p. 2 5 8 ) instead of her, and using her, "not her actual body so much as i t s formal vessel, from which to pour his visions of l i f e " (p.2 1 0 ) , Hurtle destroyed Nance, or at least contributed to her destruction, in the service of his art. As a b r i l l i a n t a r t i s t , he is also a cruel "vivisector;" by exercising his ar t i s t i c vision and s k i l l s on Nance, he produced both masterpieces of art, and her death. His attribution of the brilliance and the cruelty in him to God, in the con-versation with Cutbush, is a religious rationalization culminating from a long period of awareness of what he was doing to Nance. Quite early on in their relationship, he saw that he would "vivisect" her, for he realized that in exposing herself to him, "like a l l human vegetables she was offering herself to the knife she only half sus-pected"' ( p . 2 0 7 ) . Ha